Some of the student-athletes preparing to represent Nigeria at the 2023 World University Games, which holds from July 28 to August 8 in Chengdu, China are afraid of their dreams being crushed after the Nigeria University Games Association announced last Tuesday that it lacked funds to finance the trip to the competition, The PUNCH reports.

After being selected from a trial in Benin City last month, the hopes of 75 athletes are hanging in the balance with exactly a month to the start of the Games.

“We appeal to the government to come to our aid and support our athletes to the World University Games; we call upon the government, sports authorities and corporate sponsors to recogniSe the immense value of investing in university athletes. They are the future of Nigerian sports, and their success will inspire generations to come,” NUGA said in statement last week.

One of the athletes, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “Right now, my hopes are low. Exactly a month and there is even no contact with my school at all about travel plans. I heard they have money for only 20 students out of 75. At this point, it is until we get into the plane that I will believe we are all going.”

A track and field athlete from the University of Ilorin, Musa Nureni, is, however, optimistic of a turnaround despite Nigeria’s absence at previous editions of the competition.

“Things have been quite different for NUGA recently, so I raised my hopes after the trial. This is the dream of 75 athletes and efforts of other officials. I hope the government comes through for us,” Nureni told The PUNCH.

Seventeen-year-old Damilola Oyedepo, who qualified to play badminton from Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko says her preparations are ongoing as she recently attended the African Beach Games in Tunisia.

“We are not only training for FISU, but also for other competitions. FISU Games is the biggest thing for me at the moment, I will be sad if it turns out that we cannot go,” Oyedepo said.

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