By Imgbian Caleb Viashima
Growing up, every child aims to be a doctor, pharmacist, Astrounut or a mathematician. Personally I loved going to school as I got to see my friends and play a lot with them. We would play games like football, badminton, basketball, running and sometimes scrabble and chess. It was easy to tell some of my friends were better at sports than others. It wasn’t a big deal if you were poor at sports though. As a matter of fact it wasn’t compulsory to do sports in my time. Our proprietor usually adviced pupils to do more reading than sports and this trend continued till I finished secondary school. This, as world trends have manifestly shown, is a major miscalculation. But sports enthusiasm from the early stages of life is profitable unto good health in the later years of existence.
Sporting activities can raise the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, for the country if properly harnessed. This is in addition to improving the mental and physical health, education and personality development of participants. Youth participation in sports will inevitably bring honours to the country and gloriously highlight us to the world.
In Nigeria, the problems of the sporting sector are not necessarily from our government as Mr Jacob Ajom wrote in the sports section of Vanguard on August 23, 2017 titled “Nigeria sport:Falling standards, result of leadership vacuum”. He talked about how Former President Goodluck Jonathan called a One Day retreat after our disastrous 2012 Olympic perfomance which cited a lot of interest from stakeholders but was not followed up as it came late into the former President’s regime. Even after that, the present government still set up another ministerial committee in 2016 to reform our sporting sector which has come to naught till today.
Our sporting sector in the country is lagging behind because of the little interest some Nigerians have in pursuing a career as sports persons. This can be traced back to childhood and how parents discourage their children from wanting to be footballers, basketballers even when their talent is obviously sport inclined. It can be understood from the point of view of parents, as very few sports people make it to the top. It is therefore, proper to appeal to parents to support their children by putting pressure on schools to focus a little more on sports. This could go a long way to changing the future of Nigerian sports, so young people could pursue careers in different fields like Gymnastics, Cricket, Tennis, e.t.c.
While it is easy and not entirely necessary to blame and criticize the Government alone to do better, we must realize that we all are the government. Business men and private citizens alike are called upon to emulate the likes of Senator Ifeanyi Uba (Ifeanyi Uba Football Club) and late Chief MKO Abiola of blessed memory. These men have in no small way, enhanced the livelihoods of many families and upheld talents through sports.
Private and public schools nationwide are duty bound to ensure they invest in the future of sports by catching them young, straight from the cradle. With the solid combination of talent and good education among the youth, any nation can count its gains in no small measure.
Companies can help reduce unemployment and contribute to improving the livelihoods of citizens by engaging in large scale production of sporting kits, equipments and accessories. These include jersies, nets, balls, foot wears and costumes for cheerleaders, among others. So far, this multi billion Naira sector still lies fallow.
Government on its part, must remove all taxes and levies on companies producing sporting equipment. Instead, loans and grants issued to such producers are highly appreciated.
It is imperative to urge the governments at all levels, to establish more sports institutions in the country, with a good payment system. This can encourage more citizen participation. We could also look to South Africa for inspiration. Their football league is the best in Africa both institutionally and commercially. They also have international players who go to their football league to pursue careers. This is highly recommended for Nigeria.
Imgbian Caleb Viashima writes from Abuja and reachable on email@example.com