In this exclusive interview, JOSEPH ODOEKWU of SPORTS INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE spoke with ASP ALIYU SOLOMON of the Nigerian Police Force. Aliyu is the Head Coach of the National Athletics of the Nigeria Police and vice chairman of Nigerian Police Athletics Association. He is not happy that since CHIOMA AJUNWA and the late SUNDAY BADA did the nation proud at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympics respectively, the police force are yet to spring up another surprise at the global showpiece. He talks about the Tokyo Olympics and the plans of the Police towards athletes talent hunt. The excerpt reads.
Tell us us briefly about yourself ?
I was an athlete, and an ex-international that represented Nigeria in athletics. It was basically at the African Championship level before I retired and became a coach. I am also currently the vice chairman of the Nigerian Police Athletics Association and the Head Coach of the Nigerian Police athletics.
Since Chioma Ajunwa and Sunday Bada did the nation proud at the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympics, the Police force are yet to come up with another feat at the Olympics. Is this not of concern to you as the National Team Coach of the Police?
It is a very big source of concern to me and to all of us at the police force. But I must also mention that when Chioma Ajunwa set that record, that was when the police force was having consistent Biannual sports competitions that gave us room to discover talents. Some of them were nurtured and with the support from certain individuals like Segun Odegbami and Remi Olowode of the IGI Insurance, the likes of Ajunwa excelled and did the nation proud. However, due to political situation of the country, the competitions stopped taking place as we could not sustain the competition every two years.
Are you saying there is no plan for the force to do the nation proud now?
Not really. I thank God we currently have lots of new officers in the Sports department of the Nigerian Police now who understand what it entails. We will surely come out big. They are tirelessly working to ensure we come up with something different.
Is there currently any plan for recruitment of athletes in the Police force?
We have a plan for that. Unfortunately,the coronavirus is delaying a lot of things. The Nigerian police force has plans to scout and recruit young talented athlete into the force. But the pandemic is currently hindering it. Once this pandemic is over, we shall surely start the recruitment exercise. I promise to get your attention to that when we start the recruitment exercise. We are a force to reckon with when it comes to Sports in Nigeria.
Lets look at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, do we have officers who have qualified?
Right now, I cannot authoritatively tell you that the Nigerian police have athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. And that is because of the outbreak of the coronavirus. The pandemic disrupted lots of sporting activities including qualification processes. As you can see, even the date of the Olympics had to be shifted, so it’s a global issue.
So is there still hope for any police officer to pick the Tokyo Olympics slot?
There is hope. We still have one or two officers whom we are hoping will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. I am sure once this whole issue of COVID-19 is over something positive will come up.
If one or two officers qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, are we expecting a major upset like Ajunwa did at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics?
The truth is even before Chioma Ajunwa won that gold at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, she was a dark horse. No one knew something great will come from her or the Nigerian Police. It is her resilience and commitment that brought glory to Nigeria at the Olympics. So we cannot at this stage say Nigerians should expect a major upset. Sport is not done that way.
Does that mean we should keep hoping?
Like I said earlier, the Nigerian Police is a force to reckon with in sport. You cannot rule the police force out totally.We may still cause an upset at the Tokyo Olympics.
Okay sir, thank you very much for sparing your time with us.
Thank you too for coming around.