Supervising Minister and Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has said that the Federal Government was set to ensure a paradigm shift in sports by creating a veritable platform where youths in the country would be gainfully engaged and able to develop their talents.
The Minister stated this when he received in audience, representatives of the International Management Group (IMG) who were in his office to discuss the modalities of managing Basketball League in Nigeria. The group was led by Tayo Amusan, a business magnet and the brain behind the initiative.
Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi noted that if the NSC was able to pull this off it would usher in a new era in sports administration where private investors would be willing take up sports management instead of depending solely on government support for everything.
In his remarks, the Director General of the National Sports Commission, Dr. Patrick Ekeji maintained that indeed Nigeria was blessed with an abundance of sports talents. According to him, the number of youths interested in Basketball could favourably equate those in football the difference however being that football enjoys greater patronage.
He opined that with an appropriate structure in place that Nigeria can produce a situation or players that can fit into a basketball league as obtain in other developed countries of the world. He stated that though several Nigerians are interested in investing in sports but quite unfortunately the enabling environment was not provided for them to recoup whatever resources they commit into sporting projects. This trend he lamented has greatly impeded the development of sports in the country.
The Director General stressed that there is no other way to manage sports and make it value oriented than to encourage private sponsorship or concession of some sports. He therefore urged the delegation to tidy up their ends by setting up a formidable structure that would stand the test of time.
Earlier, the European Head of the IMG, Andrew Wildblood noted that Nigeria is a nation of athletes in every sense of the word; he stated that as an emerging economy sports development is a critical aspect of nation building which should been given a hundred percent holistic approach in order to achieve the total wellbeing of the citizenry.
This he said can only be achieved with an effective, well managed as well as a well developed grassroots sports. He maintained that a well developed elite sports will provide young people the needed platform to enhance their talents.