Between July 26 and 28, Abuja, Nigeria’s capital will be agog with cycling events known as Africa Cycling Cup. No fewer than 10 countries including host Nigeria are already in for the prestigious continental showpiece scheduled to be staged in Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium. Ahead of the fiesta, President of Cycling Federation of Nigeria (CFN) briefed teaming media on the level of preparations so far. His views were captured by Blueprint weekend sports crew.
Expectations and participation
No fewer than 100 participants would feature in the competition from ten countries namely, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Republic of enin, Burundi, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria.
There will be international coaches that will coordinate the activities during the games, also coaching courses for track and other aspects of the sports will be held.
Also, Andrea Tonti, former Italy national team member and other lieutenants of several UCI world champions will be around during the competition.
The leadership of Confederation of Africa Cycling (CAC), led by its president, Mohamed Azzam, would also be in Abuja for the event.
We want to make Nigeria happy, we need to showcase our strength.
We want to make cycling one of the fastest growing sports in the country and to boost athletes because we have the potential that can place Nigeria in the cycling world map.
We want sponsors that believe in the sports to come partner with the federation because the game is beyond sports, it has health benefits to human and also environmental friendly which can ease the congestion of road transportation.
We want to make cycling one of the fastest growing sports in Nigeria and to boost athletes because we have the potential that can place Nigeria in the cycling world map.
We want sponsors that believe in the sport to come and partner with the federation. The game of cycling is more than just sport. It has health benefits to human and also environmental friendly which can ease the congestion of road transportation.
Nigeria is ranked high in Africa and we want to go beyond the records. We have selected 21 athletes in the senior elite and the under-23 athletes both male and female that will be representing the nation at the championship in different categories”.
Availability of facilities
Thankfully, in December, 2018, we were able to retrieve back the facilities at the velodrome This building where the facility is, is the best in Africa and one of the best in the world and it has not really been utilised since it was constructed.
Time has come; we have to make use of it. Now, we can train with the facility since December. We participated in Africa track Championship earlier this year in track in South Africa and we were able to get seven medals comprising of five sliver and two bronze medals.
Our target is to improve our cycling and make it better and boast our athletes. To give hope to everyone a sense of focus and uplift the image of the country. We participated in the Africa Youth Games last year in Algeria and we won gold in track during West Africa track.
Training and capacity building
We have coach course for track with UCI who are going to conduct the course and issue certificate at the end. We believe in certification, we have done that of the road and we believe subsequently do more. The UCI granted us the permission to do the course on track and mechanic.
We are investing in capacity building be enriching our coaches knowledge-wise. We need to refine our coaches and sustain the standard we have set.
There will be an international course as well. We have the equipment, we have the people and now we need the knowledge. So all the cadre that compose the Cycling family are to be rebuilt and this is the right time.
So we are not just looking at the competition alone. We are looking at other programmes that will help us build the people and improve on the capacity of our people.
One of the challenges we have is the issue of finances. We need sponsors to help us achieve our aim. Sponsors will benefit greatly if they come in because cycling is a global sport with massive fans.
Since we got back the Velodrome, Confederation of Africa Cycling (CAC) saw the need to give us the hosting right for the championship. In March congress held in Rome, we signed the official MOU conferring the hosting right on us. It is a very big competition.
Apart from finance which is our main challenge, when it comes to track event, you must have a specific bike which is not same as the rod bike. So we need to acquire bikes. Right now we have acquired 40 bikes. We have 37 new bikes and then the three we had before which makes it 40. They came from different countries such as Algeria, Italy and France. The bikes are state-of-the-art. So we have the equipment.