The Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare, has said that Nigeria is not bereft of ideas for sports development to take place in the country, but the political will and capacity for implementation.
He made this assertion at the Imo State Sports Summit organised by the Governor Emeka Ihedioha in Owerri the Imo State capital.
In his keynote address, the Minister commended the Imo state Governor for his commitment to grassroots sports development. “The Sports summit today is yet another major act in the series of ongoing and oncoming acts this Governor has committed his administration to in the aspect of grassroots sports development. Your Excellency. I thank you. That is why I am delighted to address you all today at the 2019 Imo State Sports Summit. When I received the invitation to present the Keynote Address at this Summit, I was thrilled by the topics that would be discussed by the various speakers and in particular by the sub theme of the Summit, which is “to catalyze sporting excellence by driving talent mining at the grassroots level” What is sports without talents? I guess barely nothing. Only talents triumph. Not brawn. Not luck and in most cases not luck. Luck takes flight when it meets with talent. The recognition that Nigeria needs to start mining for talents from the grassroots in a methodical way by the Imo State government needs our applause! It needs our support. It needs our collaboration and partnership”, he said.
“Perhaps, if the bid by Imo State to host the next National Sports Festival, Your Excellency, you should consider changing the state mantra to IMO- Home of Sports from what it is now. Already, you are charting the critical part to achieving sporting excellence. Taking the right steps and making decisions. Dancing the dance and changing the perception”, he added.
The Minister used to occasion to intimate the gathering on some of the plans by the Ministry to achieve the nation’s goals in the area of sports, he said “The Ministry has conceived of the Talent Hunt Program, THP, which will be launched in February. The sole objective is to empower a crack team of sports coaches and technical experts to move around the country and hunt for talents in about 12 sports. Through the program the talents found will undergo a special training and mentoring program of one month before they are inserted into the federations. The Ministry will closely monitor their growth and development. The Ministry in September organized the National Youth Games for ages 6-15 in Ilorin. Over 320 young talents were discovered. The Ministry would continue to organize the annual National Youth Games so as to create a pool of talents that are ready to challenge the elite athletes at international competitions. The National Sports Festival is also a grade A sports festival organized by the Ministry where talents are discovered”.
He also disclosed that the Principal Cup competitions which produced household names like, Henry Nwosu, Adokiye Amiesimaka, Franklin Howard, Stephen Keshi and a host of others will be resuscitated but would not be restricted to football. “In the pilot scheme, we are currently looking at the about 4 to 5 sports (Athletics, Table Tennis, Badminton, Football and perhaps Wrestling). To achieve this, we shall be partnering with the Federal Ministry of Education and other relevant stakeholders. The Ministry will also commence for the first time what we call the Headmasters Cup for Primary schools in order to boost the catchments. About 10,000 primary schools across the country will compete for trophies in 3-5 different sports. We will be depending largely on the active collaboration of States and local governments”, he added.
Calling for more private sector investment in sports, the Minister said, “our sports development goals cannot be sustained with government funding alone. While it is very much appreciated that the government has key role to play, especially in the areas of effective policy to drive the sector, every other stakeholders, including the Organized Private Sector must play its part in these efforts. Nigeria will soon get a robust and dynamic National Sports Policy in line with modern and international beet practices. We can no longer treat sports as mere recreation when across the world sports is treated as business. It is now a 1.3 trillion dollars globally.”
“The new business model for sports that we seek will bring private funds into sports development. A robust public private partnership that will be developed along mutually beneficial lines. Government can no longer fund sports solely. A new partnership is needed, and we are on that path already”, Mr. Dare disclosed.
While expressing optimism that the reports and recommendations of the summit will be implemented, the Minister said, “I also believe that there a new and evolving creative ways of driving sports development and especially in the area of digital economy. The managers of sports need to position themselves to take advantage of this opportunity. I urge the participants to look at innovative ways of developing our sports taking cognizance of our peculiar environment vis-à-vis the need to compete at the global stage”.
“I thank His Excellency for organizing this Summit and I have no doubt in my mind that the recommendations and findings of the Summit would be implemented. As a major stakeholder in the Sports Industry, I also look forward to receiving a copy of the recommendations”, Mr. Dare concluded.