The Association of Former Female Athletes of Nigeria (AFFAN) have urged active athletes to combine sports with education so as to have meaningful lives after active years.
According to the President of the association, Dr Mrs Esther Oluwatoyin Aluko, AFFAN was established in response to the yearnings of hundreds of former athletes who have distinguished themselves in various spheres of life, for a platform through which they could come together as a body to give back to the society.
“We are group of female athletes who have at one point represented Nigeria in various sports and we have paid our dues by bringing laurels to our country.
“Before now, we realized that there was no voice for the former athletes and we decided to come together to form this association. We don’t want the younger athletes to face the kind of challenges we faced and that is why we are presenting ourselves as role models.
“We encourage the younger ones to focus and they must combine sports with education,” she said.
Aluko said the goal is to have athletes functioning at the top of any endeavour and not complaining of being abandoned after active years.
“Gone are those days when athletes will have inconclusive education and we want to stop that. We want to have athletes to be able to function in any area of life. We want to produce ex-athletes that will be politicians, lawyers, accountants.
“If you know, we have not had ex-athletes in top positions of sports administrations in Nigeria and we want to present AFFAN to Nigerians as we are building its future.
“We want these athletes to be responsible to the society not athletes that will be complaining that the country abandoned them after their sporting lives,” she said
Aluko said that the association was established to with a view to discovering, educating, empowering and mentoring Nigerian girls through impactful sporting activities and programmes.
She added that “Our strength is that we have former athletes across the country and with little support, we will reverse the neglect of ex athletes and meaningfully engage them to do what they are best at.
“They have served the nation and are still willing and ready to serve using their wealth of experience and knowledge garnered over the years for the betterment of sports in Nigeria,” he said.
Explaining the rational for the “Impact Projects” Dr Oluwatoyin said that the vision behind impact protects by the AFFAN “Is to positively transform the lives of girls, families and communities using sports as a platform to reach the unreachable and the vulnerable with a view to discover, educate, empower, mentor and protect potential athletes through AFFAN organised events, activities and programmes.
“We would organise sport training and events, seminars, workshops, camping walk and skills acquisition training programmes at the IDP camps, primary and secondary schools within the FCT and across Nigeria.”
Highlights of the inauguration were presentation of inaugural lecture with the theme “The Challenges of Female Athletes in Sports”, unveiling of the association’s slogan
Several ex athletes attended the ceremony among whom was the 1996 Olympic Long Jump gold medallist, Chioma Ajunwa-Opara.