THE Federal and Enugu State Governments have expressed the desire to partner toward developing the sports sector in order to create jobs, grow the economy and tackle insecurity.
The Minister of Sports, Sen. John Enoh, and state Governor, Mr Peter Mbah, disclosed this during the minister’s courtesy visit to the Government House, Enugu, on Monday.
The minister said that the Federal Government was interested in collaborating with the state to make sports a profitable business.
He commended Mbah for his commitment to develop the sports sector in the state through his innovative and comprehensive upgrade and rebranding of sporting facilities in the state.
According to him, sports is a five trillion dollars industry that has the capacity to inspire and change the world.
“It has the power to give hope when there is despair.
“Sports speaks to the youths in the language they understand.
“Sports has more power than government to break barriers and boundaries of racial discrimination and injustices,” Enoh said.
He said that it was for these reasons that President Bola Tinubu decided to create a separate Ministry of Sports Development
He also said that sports is expected to contribute in so many ways, especially in job creation and security in the country.
“We have a challenge of unemployment, and there is no sector that can help in tackling this, if not sports and even for our economic growth”, he added.
Enoh further commended the state for its contributions to sports development, saying it had a rich history with an international brand like the Rangers International FC.
“Sports is no longer for leisure and recreation, it is a critical business sector.
“We need to start thinking of how we can translate the passion and energies in our youths for sports business, which will boost Enugu and country’s economies.
“The national sports policy is talking about infrastructure, incentives and investment because the businessman who wants to invest in sports needs to be assured of his return on investment.
“Sports is doing much more than it is appreciated because it has the potential to contribute between four and seven per cent to our GDP,” he said.
Also, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports in the state, Lloyd Ekweremadu, said the sports sector was vital for economic development of the state.
Ekweremadu commended the Federal Government for sharing the same vision with Mbah’s administration and seeking collaboration with it to boost the economy.
According to him, this will help to reduce youth unemployment and improve the security of the state.
Responding, the governor said that the state would play a significant leadership role in catalysing the change that the nation sought to achieve in sports and youth development.
“It is reassuring because that is in line with the vision of this administration, which is also in our manifesto, on how youths are going to be integrated into the economic development trajectory.
“Enugu State has a growth trajectory of $4.4 billion to $30 billion in the next eight years and we are very mindful of the role sports will play to achieve this target,” he said.
Mbah, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, said that the National Bureau of Statistics’ designation of sports as “a mere leisure and recreation is discouraging”.
He, therefore, called for a change in the designation from leisure and recreation to business, pointing out that this would help to change the people’s mindset toward the sports sector.
He called for more collaboration between the government and private sector to expand the horizon of sports and youth development for economic benefits and sustainability.
“We are building back Enugu Rangers and re-enacting it back to what it used to be.
“We have the branding of the Rangers jersey by Afrinvest, and we have other private investors who are also showing interest in investing in the club.
“We will not be left behind; we will fight toe to toe with the Federal Government and make sure we change the way sports is perceived in the country and Enugu will be a model for that,” he said. (NAN)
November 7, 2023 @ 6:23 GMT|