By Ogundele Olanrewaju
Governments at state and national levels have been urged to make participation in school sports compulsory for all students in Nigeria.
The President Nigeria School Sports Federation, Mrs Olabisi Joseph gave this advice on Monday while speaking as a Guest Lecturer at the opening ceremony of the 2021 Annual Week of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, (SWAN) Oyo State Chapter at the NUJ Press Centre Iyaganku Ibadan.
Delivering the lecture titled ‘Taking Nigeria Sports to the Next Level Through School Sports Reforms’, Mrs Joseph noted that school sports which used to produce most of the country’s sports stars are on decline and needed to be revived for Nigerian sports to grow and the country’s athletes to excel in international competitions.
“Nigeria with a population of 206 million citizens should be able to produce various sports teams and athletes that could perform excellently in global competitions if sports at the grassroots are taken seriously.
However, for us to have sustainable sports development, we need to return to school sports”, Joseph said.
The President, Nigeria School Sports Federation further advocated for long term development plans for sports in the country.
In his keynote address, the Oyo State Commissioner for Information, Cultures and Tourism, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, represented by the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics in the Ministry, Alhaji Abdul-Fatai Oyedeji who was a former SWAN Executive in the state, asserted that the state government is seriously committed to sports development and youth empowerments.
“This administration under Governor Seyi Makinde knows the importance of sports as harbinger of joy, wealth and glories. This is why His Excellency has embarked on renovation and upgrade of several stadia across the state, including the Lekan Salami stadium which NFF President Amaju Pinnick recently certified fit to host international football matches”, the former sportscaster stated
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chief Host who is the Chairman Nigeria Union of Journalists, Oyo State Council Comrade Ademola Babalola stressed the need for parents and educationists to allow students to combine sports with academic pursuits, stressing that sports engender a sound body with a sound mind.
Welcoming guests to the ceremony, the Chairman Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) in Oyo State, Comrade Niyi Alebiosu explained that the organisers of the event chose the topic to set agenda for the nation’s sports administrators.
In their separate comments on the subject, a keep fit expert who is also the Patroness of Oyo SWAN Ambassador Romoke Ayinde and the owner of Shafaudeen Patriots Football Club, Professor Sabitu Ariyo Olagoke J.P called for encouragement of private individuals and bodies to invest and promote grassroot and school sports.
The 2021 Oyo SWAN Week will continue on Tuesday with the commencement of the annual five – a – side football competition and a table tennis tournament for sports journalists in the state.