The Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare has commended His excellency Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha for the 2019 Sports Summit which he described as another major act in the series of ongoing and oncoming acts the governor has committed his administration to in Grassroot sports . He said this at the 2019 Imo State Sports summit today Thursday November 28, 2019 in Owerri the Imo state capital.
He said Gov. Ihedioha has caught the Mandela bug in giving true meaning to the inspiring words of Nelson Mandela in words and action which goes thus “Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that nothing else does. It speaks of Youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all forms of discrimination”. Gov. Ihedioha has therefore taken a giant stride in boosting Sports Development in Nigeria.
The Minister expressed delight at the sub theme of the summit among which are “to Catalyse sporting excellence by driving talent mining at the Grassroots level”. He compared talent mining with oil mining or field which he illustrated as an oil triangle. This narrative according to him is likened to the life of an athlete. He said many of our former athletes live in near penury but efforts are on to change the narrative by the Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government.
The Hon Minister reiterate that the sub theme, driving talent mining at the Grassroots essentially is in sync with the belief at the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports development that there is the need to create a backend linkage in our sports development initiatives in the country.
He highlighted some of the programmes which the Ministry has conceived to bring to bear and the ones already on ground such as the Talent Hunt Program THP which will be launched in February, the National Youth Games for ages 6-15 organized in September at Ilorin and the National Sports Festival organized by the Ministry where talents are discovered.
Mr Dare recalled with nostalgia the Principal cup of old which produced household names like Henry Nwosu, Adokiye Amiesimaka etc and expressed delight that the Principals and Headmasters cup for primary schools will be brought back on track in order to boost the catchments. To achieve this he implored the active collaboration of states and local governments while also expressing optimism in Imo State maximum support.
Mr Dare further solicited for other stakeholders including the Organized private sector to support sports development as government funding alone is insufficient to drive sports development.
To this end the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is working with the National Economic Summit Group to develop a template for running sports as a Business.
He stated that the Ministry is Collaborating with the NESG under 6 sports industry Thematic group. The NESG and the Ministry recently delivered an interim report on sports industry from concept to action.
With this report Nigeria will get a robust and dynamic National Sports policy in line with modern and international best practices. This new business model for sports will bring in private funds into sports development as the Ministry believes that collaboration among organizations and between sectors is central to the success of the sport industry hence the Ministry’s novel initiative of the “Adoption Campaign” – a policy for managing not only the sports infrastructure in the country but our amateur and elite athletes as well.
The Hon Minister said the Imo State model of having each local government build a mini-stadium sports complex and develop sports sites at the heart of sports development will greatly motivate boarding talents be discovered.
This will connect beautifully with the plan of government to re-energize sports development from the sub-national levels. The Imo model will be adopted as a template by the Ministry and sold to other states for sports development. This model example will open up opportunities for our teeming youth to be engaged.
He how ever opined that the political will and capacity to implement these reports and recommendations for sports development is lacking and expressed the belief that there is a new and evolving creative way of driving sports development especially in the area of digital economy and urged participants in the summit to look at innovative ways of developing our sports taking cognizance of our peculiar environment vis-a-vis the need to compete at the global stage.