For the umpteenth time, the Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare has declared that Nigeria urgently needs a private sector driven Athletes Development Program and a Sports Fund that is independent of government.
The Minister, who spoke on the sidelines of the Tokyo Olympics in Japan, canvassed for support for consistent training and development of athletes.
“I will be more aggressive with engaging the private sector. We need our sports infrastructure activated and equipped. We need a cluster of multi-purpose sports centres or community sports centres to attract our young ones like Rowe Park in Lagos.
“We will tinker with a new National Sports Industry Policy by expanding the areas of athletes’ grants and training, government funding and commitment to sporting infrastructure development. There are a few fundamentals we have walked away from when it comes to sports administration. We will seek a return by God’s grace,” the Minister declared.
On the strategy of taking only athletes with prospects to the Olympics, the Minister said “Nigeria should keep the plan that brought us here. Not just medal winners but as many that meet the qualification standards in the chosen sports. Experience matters at the Olympics.
“Most of the medal winners have been to two or more Olympics. I saw how lack of experience robbed two of our young and talented athletes medals – Elizabeth in taekwondo, Ikeh Uche in gymnastics and Esther Toko in Rowing who eventually secured a good Olympic classification.