Bayelsa State Commissioner of Sports, Daniel Igali has assured that the government of Douye Diri is determined to give all the available opportunities to the youths of the state to produce world champions in sports.
In this interview, the former world champion in Greco Roman wrestling gives his reasons for his belief in the leadership of the governor.
Q: Can you indulge us briefly Sir with your Bio-data and your hobbies?
A: I am Honourable Daniel Igali, I was born in Enuwari in the early 70s and I grow up to be a Nigerian champion / African champion before I left the shores of Nigeria in 1994 and became Canada first ever world champion and Canada Olympic champion in 1999 and 2000. I returned home after 2004 when I retired and I have been involved with Daniel lgali foundation building school and helping out youths, got into the Bayelsa State House of Assembly for eight years and I am currently the President of the Nigerian Wrestling Federation and Commander in chief of the unarmed wrestling forces and the Honourable Commissioner for Youth and Sports development Bayelsa State.
Q: let me cast your mind back to when you were in Canada and you were announced under the Canadian flag as Olympic champion, how did it make you feel?
A: You know when you become an Olympic champion, you are in cloud 9, you really don’t know what happens, it’s until you finish after a couple of days that realty sets in. That was an absolute wonderment, I remember feeling what I have never ever felt in my life and I don’t know if am going to feel it again.
Q: that was under another flag as a Canadian and not as a Nigerian. Did that mean anything to you?
A: Not really, when I left Nigeria in 1994, by 1996 I had already become a landed immigrant in Canada and I wanted to come back. I even wrote to Nigeria to come back for Olympic trials but they refused. In 1997, I was in university studying criminology and my school even offered to pay my ticket to come down and do trials for the world championship which happened to be in the US and I was still rejected by Nigeria. Am a proud Canadian but a prouder Nigerian.
Q: As a Bayelsan, what do you want to do to ensure that these possibilities abound in Bayelsa?
A: that is why I came back home; a lot of people ask me that people will give up their arm and their legs to go to Canada and you have left Canada to come back to Nigeria. It is precisely for that reason that I came back and over time I will come for three months and sometimes six months gradually until I settle down. It was to give that atmosphere of possibility for our athletes and if you can see from 2008 when I got involved with Nigeria wrestling program, we have already had a foreign coach for 20 years before then, we have not won one medal at the world championships. I got involved in 2008 and by 2009 we already had a bronze medal from the World Championships.