By Benprince Ezeh
FOLLOWING Nigeria’s poor performance in sports in recent years, the Federal Government is determined to revive grassroots sports across the country. This, the government said, would enable the country to develop and groom young sportsmen and women that would represent the nation in all sports categories.
Sunday Dare, Minister for Youth and Sports Development, has promised that the ministry is prioritizing grassroots sports while exploiting other ways of reviving interest at that level of sports because it is investment in the younger generation.
The minister, who said this at the closure of the National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara State, explained that grassroots games remain the best means of identifying talents that will represent the country in continental and international tournaments.
At a courtesy visit to the Kwara state Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi, Dare said that the National Youth Games has been strategic in identifying young talents that Nigeria needs to groom for the future and that Kwara state, which has hosted the games is an example to other states since it is now being considered to host other national and continental tournaments.
Alabi expressed confidence that grassroots sports will be revived with the Minister’s approach, saying that “we pray with the new minister that something will be done. Athletics is something that is very important. A lot of young people are going into drug addiction right now, but sports is one avenue that can be used to prevent that,” he said.
Mitchel Obi, President of the International Sports Press Association, AIPS, Africa, stated in a telephone chat with BusinessDay that the Nigerian sports sector has remained unchanged in terms of growth and development from 1960 to date. “It’s sad that at this stage, the leadership of this country does not consider sports as a catalyst for her developmental effort; that is the fundamental drawback. Sports is a veritable attraction for the teeming Nigerian youths,” Obi said.
Ikechukwu Egwuatu, a banker and sports lover in an interview with Realnews in Lagos noted that the Nigerian sports industry has struggled for attention and investments over the years as the Nigerian government has invested very little in sports.
“A lot more has to be done to get more investments from the private sector to completely revitalize the league so that it can start yielding positive results, any support from the government to the sports industry must be professionalized and transparent with clear targets set that to drive enterprise.
“The government can also use sports to engage the set of demography that are poorly-educated, poorly skilled and unemployed, whose population has increased exponentially, from the grassroots via elementary schools through to professional classes. This can translate to direct job creation within those categories as athletes, sportspersons, trainers, agents, coaches, referees, sportswriters, mediators, and other sports officials or administrators,” he said.
– Jan. 24, 2020 @ 17:55 GMT |