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Sports an Engine of Youth Development

The Nigerian Sports industry is one of the key sectors of the economy that has direct impact on Nigerians, and the reasons for this assertion is not far-fetched.

As a kicker, sport plays an important role in promoting nationbuilding, social cohesion and a healthy lifestyle. However, this sector has been plagued by massive corruption, mismanagement of funds, infrastructural decay and power struggles which are major problems the incoming president must address in order to move the industry forward.

A peep into the sector reveals the challenges ahead because the sector has adverse effects on not only sportsmen and women, but every Nigerian. Thus, there is need to actively engage the best technocrats whose duty will be to help curb the aforementioned challenges in order to ensure that we progressively improve as nation in sports.

It is worthy to note that the Ministry of Education in the various states and even at the federal level in the new dispensation must start realising that they are key partners in sports development in Nigeria, especially as far as school sport is concerned. The reason being that it is in schools that future Olympians can be discovered at tender ages and trained to stardom.

The advantage of catchingthem- young is enormous since it enables a young athlete to take to instructions and be willingly to adhere to laid down rules preparatory to a competition.

Also, since sport participation is a short term career, athletes tend to enjoy their career more when they commence early to take part in sport before reaching their peak in their chosen field.

Therefore, the incoming president must commit enough funds to help develop sports from the grassroots, especially from schools.

Another aspect of sports development which needs adequate attention is in the curbing of corruption from that sector.

Corruption is one major problem that has continued to hinder the development of sports in the country. For example, in football, from the administrators, referees, coaches and even the players, the story remains the same as this hydra-headed monster continues to torment and eat deep into the fabrics of the beautiful game.

Unfortunately, all the relevant anti-graft agencies have turned a blind eye at fighting this monster. Thus, it is expected that the incoming administration will have their hands full in putting an end to it.

On record, despite all the huge cry from stakeholders of Nigerian football to end this greed among football administrators, not a single person has been convicted.

For example, during the Sani Lulu-led NFF, the sum of $236, 000 disappeared from the secretariat of the NFF. The then Secretary General of NFF, Dr. Bolaji Ojo- Oba, in whose office the money grew wings feigned ignorance of what happened by denying having knowledge of how the money got missing. Today, Ojo-Oba is a free man as he recently retired as the Director of Grassroots Sports Development in the National Sports Commission (NSC) in Abuja.

The extent of corruption in the sports sector once prompted the Senate President, David Mark, to take a swipe on the NFF in early 2012, describing the body as the most corrupt government agency in the country.

Mark added that corruption in NFF was responsible for the total decline in football, lamenting that Nigeria which was once the football giant of Africa now quivers before smaller football nations during matches.

The Senate President even went further to advice the Federal Government to shutdown football for a period of time to allow for better planning which can still be done to sanitize the system in the new dispensation.

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