African News Network
The Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) President, Kelechukwu Mbagwu believes the country’s quest to become of the great teams in the world lies with grassroots development of the game with schools as the launch pad.
Mbagwu, who is delighted by Nigeria’s progress in rugby since his board came to power last year, said the NRFF has started making efforts to put structures in place across the country to enable school children embrace rugby at their formative stage.He declared that his board has started seeking public and private partnerships to raise funds for the basic infrastructure that would put Nigeria at par with best rugby playing nations of the world.
Highlighting NRFF’s achievements since he assumed office, Mbagwu said ratifying the board’s constitution, which paved the way for Rugby Africa to lift the ban on Nigeria, has helped the growth of the game, noting also that the federation has succeeded in taking the league that was only played in the South West and North to other regions of the country.
Mbagwu added that the outstanding performance of the national men’s team in recent international engagements with mostly domestic talents has proved that the country is blessed with quality players that would soon start challenging the leading African nations in the sport.“The federation is pushing hard to get the I-try programme in the North to other parts of the country. “If we could get rugby to be taught in schools I think we would have succeeded in laying the foundation that would take the sports to enviable height.
“You can see from the performances of the national team in the regional championship in Cote d’Ivoire and the international friendly against Niger Republic that we are on course. Beating other top African countries in the tournament to qualify for the final of the championship, which we lost controversially just after coming out of suspension has raised Nigeria’s stake in international rugby,” he said. Mbagwu revealed that the board was currently trying to assemble a formidable female rugby team that would represent Nigeria in a rugby sevens championship in Las Vegas, U.S. next year.
“We are also trying to fix a date for the Independence Sevens in line with Rugby Africa’s programme because they want to observe the championship, grade some of Nigeria’s match officials and technical personnel for 2019 programmes.“This is a fall out from our super performance at the Africa Regional Sevens Tournament in Abidjan, where we placed second behind host Cote d’Ivoire.
“The African body is also trying to see if they could include the Independence championship in their calendar as a recognised international event. The Independence sevens tournament is another tournament to expose Nigerian teams to be exposed and compete with the best teams to tough competitions. “We are also fighting to ensure rugby becomes part of the sports at the National Sports Festival coming up in December in Abuja. The Beach Rugby Tournaments and some Sevens events will hold later in the year,” he said.
African News Network