Nigerian sports heading for the rocks

Nigerian sports heading for the rocks

My interest in
genuine, functional and effective grassroots sports development, that
will provide a credible pyramid of athlete development, which in turn,
will guarantee the platform on which the values, skills and discipline
of sports can be used to prepare millions of Nigerian children, for
future leadership roles, will not be compromised by the special grace
of God.

As an informed
sports administrator, an educated/licensed coach and a father of
children, my conscience will not allow me be at peace if I sit on the
fence and watch sports in this great nation head for the rocks.

I have always
prayed to be part of the solution to problems confronting this
generation, especially in the area of sports. That is one of the
reasons why we started the Save Nigerian Sports Initiative, a few
months ago. We also initiated the WWW.FIFA2018WORLDCUP foundation, a
long term programme, designed to ensure that the FIFA World Cup trophy,
is won by Nigeria in 2018. It is not unlikely that we will be seen as
jokers but it does not really matter to us.

I have said again
and again in this column that we prefer to operate as the bush fire and
not as the charcoal fire. Those who are experienced and knowledgeable
are aware of the fact that the charcoal fire has more a lasting effect
than the bush fire. But because the charcoal fire starts burning
silently and slowly from the inside, unlike the bush fire that attracts
a lot of attention as soon as it starts, but soon fizzles out, the
unwise seem not to respect the power of the charcoal fire. But time
will tell.

It is time however
for us in Nigeria to accept the fact that we cannot continue to deceive
ourselves or allow some nondescripts individuals to keep on deceiving
us that sports is developing in this nation. Development, we are made
to understand is the process of changing and becoming larger, stronger
and more impressive, successful or advanced. It is also the art of
causing something or somebody to change positively and consistently. It
may therefore be appropriate, to imply that sports development is the
process of making sports in all its ramifications, become larger,
stronger, more impressive, successful and advanced. Sports development
is not all about age-falsification, cheating and winning-at-all-cost.

Unforgivable disservice

Nigerians, who are
genuinely involved in grassroots sports development at the
international level, know that Nigeria has become the laughing stock
when issues relating to sports development are discussed at
conferences. Our colleagues from Europe and other parts of the world
ridicule us by asking why and how we perform so well in age-grade
competitions but fail at the adult or senior cadre. The answer is
simple. We cheat.

The shameful and
painful aspect of this crime is that a lot of sports-loving Nigerians
are now absolutely indifferent to it since all they want to see or hear
happen, is that our team – football or athletics, has won.

While I agree with
those who have described such victories, like that recorded by the
so-called U-20 national football team in South Africa, as pyrrhic, I
make bold to add that it is poisonous and will not do all those
involved in such a crime any good.

I cannot belong to
an organization that has about 120 schools – from the nursery to the
University levels, where age grade sporting activities take place and
thousands of the students in these schools have the God-given
potentials to become great future stars, and shut my mouth or pretend
that all is well with the administration of age-grade sporting
activities in this great nation.

Never! It will not
only amount to a travesty, it will be an unforgivable disservice to
humanity. I will not be part of the goon squad, who are intentionally
depriving Nigerian children the opportunity to express themselves; the
opportunity to be prepared to serve this great nation and the
opportunity to become future champions.

Whereas sports is
used in other parts of the world to give millions of children the
opportunity to experience the thrills and excitement inherent in
sports; whereas it is being used to teach them about trust, respect and
self-confidence; whereas it is being used to teach them how to stay
safe, keep healthy and in some ways, stay alive; it is sad and indeed
mysterious, that the same cannot be confidently attributed to the ways
sports is being administered, managed and utilized in Nigeria.

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