Who is a professional athlete?
A professional athlete is one who plays sports for a living. Although this profession is often looked down upon in Nigeria and does not receive as much support from the government and individuals alike, there are many Nigerian athletes who are doing well on a global level. Professional athletes can get into all kinds of professional sports such as track events, basketball, football, baseball, hockey, cricket, and others.
Steps required to become an Olympian athlete in Nigeria
Choose a sport
If you are thinking of becoming a professional athlete, the first step is to decide what sports you want to be involved or engaged in. You should choose your sports based on what you love and other considerations such as your physical strength. It is best to choose a sport you are already involved in.
Start playing at a young age
You should have started playing your favorite sports at a very young age. This way you can easily become a professional player when you attend a sports academy and get a personal coach. If you are still in school, you can join the school team to help you keep getting better at your sports. You should always grab opportunities to be part of clubs and teams that are related to your favorite sports as this is where you will find opportunities.
Consider your age
Although many have thrived in any sports they choose in spite of their ages. However, it is often advised that older athletes participate in sports that require mental skills rather than physical strength. Such games include table tennis where an older person is likely to succeed.
Assess your medical and physical condition
Before deciding to become a professional athlete, you must be fully aware of your medical history to ensure you do not have any underlying health conditions. There are many health conditions that can hamper your progress as an athlete and can lead to more serious damages if you stress your body, as is the case with a profession like this. You can also visit a local gym and consult with trainers to assess your physical strength and condition.
The athlete profession requires funding for training, schooling, and application to some international competitions. You need sponsors to help fund many of your activities so you can focus on training and becoming the best in your field.
Get a training place
After deciding what sport you want to be involved in, you should start developing your skills in no time. There are many sports academies where you can receive training at whatever level and sport you want to play. An example of such is The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), which is the governing body for the sport of Athletics in Nigeria, and also an affiliated member of the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and World Athletics. Another is the National Institute for Sports that offers Sandwich courses, Regular courses and Sport management courses in various sports such as Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Chess, Cycling, Swimming, Table tennis and others. Joining a Sports Academy to get trained will offer you a faster route to success in your professional career as an athlete as it makes you more qualified when applying for scholarships or other opportunities.
Become a member of a professional body
It is very important that you become a part of an official body. Examples of Professional bodies you can join are:
Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN): This is the governing body for the sport of Athletics in Nigeria Nigeria Olympic Committee: This is the National Governing body that coordinates the national championship and is in charge of the Nigerian national team.
Becoming a member of an official body affords you international opportunities. The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), for example, is an affiliated member of the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and World Athletics. This means that whenever any opportunities come up, you will be the first to know and have a higher chance of getting such opportunities, being a member of the group.
Get a personal coach
In order to become the best at whatever sports you have chosen, you will have to train every day. It is always best to have a coach whose job is to push you beyond your limits. Having a well-experienced coach who has spent years training can help mentor you through tough processes and act as a guide. The quality of your training determines how you play and how people rate you as an athlete. It will be hard for you to train on your own, which is the reason it is recommended that you get a personal trainer.
A career as a professional athlete is a long journey that will demand resilience and hard work. You must be positive and have a can-do attitude as you work to actualize your dream. Many will try to discourage you but remember that there are many Nigerians who have started small and are now international and professional athletes. Always visualize your success and keep your eye on the ball.
Keep being the best in your game so you can be selected on reputable teams to represent your locality or the nation.
Keep training rigorously
Even after you have started competing in major competitions, you will still need to focus on training and putting your best into the game. You must always train rigorously.
Other tips for becoming a Professional Athlete in Nigeria
- Always keep your body fit and in shape for competitions
- Avoid injuries that could damage any body part and treat yourself immediately if you get wounded
- Always visit the hospital, avoid self-medication when you get injured
- Avoid using enhancement drugs as it is illegal in the profession and can cost you your profession if found out
- Apply for different scholarship opportunities in your niche.
- Get registered for local and international competitions and tournaments related to your sports of interest.