Players of Heartland Flickers of Owerri are currently sourcing for funds to participate in the 2017 Hockey Super League and save the team from relegation, an official has said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the team’s failure to participate in the competition will lead to automatic relegation, according to the Hockey Federation of Nigeria (HFN) rules.
The team, which is owned by the Imo State Government and is supervised on its behalf by the state Sports Council, had been preparing to head to Abuja for the competition.
But Ataise Austine, the state Director of Sports, told NAN on Wednesday in Abuja the team would only participate in the competition if the players were successful in sourcing for funds.
He said this was because there was no approval by the state government for money to finance the team’s trip to Abuja.
The Director of Sports however said the players had been making effort on their own to raise funds to enable the team participate in the league.
“The team is going to participate in the league on their own, because there is no approval for them from the government.
“To us, it does not matter if they go on relegation. Presently, the state government has no money to pay its workers’ salaries. So, the team cannot be talking about going to attend a competition.
“Payment of salaries is more important than participating in any competition, because it is when you have eaten that you can compete,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the 2017 Hockey Super League which is billed to have 15 male and female teams participating will begin in Abuja on Saturday.