By Alexander Johnson Adejoh
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has described the Sport Nigeria initiative, as a gallant stride by the private sector to build a business model for the country’s sports advancement.
It is a private-driven intervention agency formed to develop the sports industry in the country, by harnessing and deploying investment, development and private sector funds across the value chain implementation.
Speaking at the official launch and stakeholders briefing event held in Lagos, the sports minister, the special guest of honour, who was represented on the occasion by Dr. Henry Nzekwu, said the initiative, “is in tandem with the position of the government that sports must operate as an industry and an area of economic activity with a fully developed value chain.
‘This event signposts the future of sports development, but more importantly takes the audacious step needed to galvanise every one to action.
‘The government, private sector, sports stakeholders, sponsors, the international community must respond to the emerging opportunities in the sector,’ he said.
Dare added, ‘The government has since revved up with the reclassification of sports as an industry over a year ago. The NESG was central to the success and progress we have made thus far.
‘The final draft of the NSIP has been submitted and awaiting presentation. Until then, we will wait. Yes. We need the government and private to make it work, but we need to put its operation in the hands of the private sector while government restricts itself to regulations and policy.
‘We hope to work with Sports Nigeria as pioneers in this journey.’
According to Chief Executive of Sports Nigeria, Nkechi Obi, ‘it is not about going to the Olympics. I always want people to understand that it is not about going to the World Cup. We will always go and there will always be 22 people who will always suit up. There will always be 30, 40, or 50 people, who we will send to the Olympics, it is not about that.
‘It is about the 100 million people, who want to do sports and they have no where to go…who are prepared to spend N100 everyday, fulfilling their passion and deliver a two trillion economy…it is about us having a sustainable part way for a raw talent to go for another raw talent to finish all that,” Obi said, adding that there are enough talents in the country rather looking for ancestral root outside to come and represent Nigeria.
Speaking also at the event, Sports Nigeria Chairman, Babatunde Folawiyo, said, “the initiative is a vicious circle because as you make more impact on the social side, it encourages the business side. As you make more impact on the business side, it leads you to greater achievement on the social side,’ adding, ‘they all combine to feed each other and hopefully, we will get to the spot where the rest of the world has gotten to.’