Agenda for youth and sports minister

COLUMNISTS and sports writers have written volumes since you were sworn-in, but I wish to draw your attention to the article published by The Punch on Thursday 29th August, 2019, titled – Sunday Dare’s green challenge. I appeal to you sir, to please read, study this article once more and hearken very diligently – (apologies to my head coach – Pastor E. A. Adeboye), and pay attention to some of the points in the article that should assist you transform and develop the Ministry of Youth and Sports development.  Research conducted over the past three decades showed that the involvement of children, teenagers, the youth and young adults in recreational and competitive sports, as proposed by the United Nations, UNICEF, FIFA, International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Association of Sports Performance Centres (ASPC) and several other concerned and credible international organisations, has tremendously contributed to the successful process of eradicating poverty, hunger and illiteracy in several parts of the world. The United States, Australia, Brazil, Ghana and Egypt are some of the nations that can testify to this fact.

Sir, sports is the only thread binding us together as a country. Not politics, not religion, not entertainment. Sports is also one of the most lucrative vocations in the world. Sports business is a massive fallow ground yet to be positively and effectively explored in our beloved country.  Sports is a humungous platform for jobs creation – for millions of our unemployed youth, which is a sine qua non for socioeconomic and political relevance, as is practiced in nations where sports is regarded as a viable industry. When effectively harnessed, sports will seamlessly generate more jobs than the telecom industry and produce massive internally and externally generated revenues like the oil and gas industry.  Sports cuts across all stereotypes and borders. Consequently, sports has the potentials to be a veritable tool in securing the future of millions of sports talented Nigerian youth, now under your care.

Unfortunately, the systemic decline in national sports development over the past four decades, the bastardisation of sports values and the emergence of morally debased sports administrators, managers and coaches, the absence of adequate training facilities, the poor maintenance of facilities, the inability of most of your predecessors, aided by the cabal, to provide the necessary enabling environment, sadly frustrated and truncated efforts made by some of the patriotic stakeholders and technocrats who tried to help.

Our dear minister, please ignore the laughable comments credited to your immediate predecessor as regards the ‘liberation of the ministry from the untouchable cabals’ during his tenure. The cabals are surreptitiously ubiquitous. Danger is that they are like banana peels, you may not notice them, easily. Please be careful. Godwin Ogogo, President of the Track and Field Coaches Association of Nigeria, said inter-alia, during an interview: “For us to move forward, the first thing the new minister must consider is to sit everyone down to hear our concerns if he wants to succeed.” I agree with him absolutely. I humbly recommend that you convoke a National Sports Summit, which will involve all stakeholders and technocrats, especially from the Ministries of Education, Agriculture and Health, National Orientation Agency, and from the local government areas of the country. Corporate organisations including banks should also be invited to participate in the summit.

This summit should be tasked with the responsibilities of strategically proffering dynamic policy initiatives to eliminate bureaucracy and red tape from sports management and administration in Nigeria. Proffer initiatives that will ensure that we embrace the most functional global best practise of sports development in Nigeria. The summit must come up with workable policies which will seamlessly enable the minister overhaul the system and employ people who will run sports in Nigeria as an enterprise and not as civil service. The summit will discuss issues concerning funding of sports in Nigeria generally. For instance, In countries where sports is managed as serious business, elite or professional sports thrive on sponsorships, while government fund is used strictly for development of grassroots sports, especially at the community and schools sports levels.  Discuss how to reform the NOC, NFF, the Nigerian football league, sports federations/associations. Discuss how to revive community sports and how to establish high performance centres in all state capitals and a university of sports science/technology and management in Nigeria, among several other issues militating against sports development and jobs creation, using the platform sports.  Question again is, can you dare?

The minister, as a member of the ASPC in charge of High Performance Centres, I know that the superior performances of modern-day athletes are the products of a very simple combination of physiological, nutritional and psychological factors. I have discovered that coaches and trainers in nations excelling at the olympics and other high-profile international events recognise that the most effective methods of preparing athletes for the demands of international competitions are those based on proven scientific principles. Therefore, any nation’s future success in any sports is absolutely to be determined by the ability of its sports scientists to identify the officials, coaches, trainers and athletes, with special talents and initiate the research programmes to foster the specific human and other factors, which determine success in sports development and competitions.  Would these be achievable during your tenure? Can you dare? The minister, it is possible because “Impossible is nothing. Impossible is not a fact, it is an opinion.”

  • Pastor Bankole sent this piece from the Redemption Camp, Lagos-Ibadan highway, Ogun State.
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