Why has the cancer of our national psyche come to corrupt the innocence of children’s event? The national youth games just recently completed at Ilorin is a microcosm and reflection of what is happening in the national level. Sport is supposed to be one area that redeems our minds from the tendencies of being bias or to act with prejudice in presiding over competitions.
We are over 180 million people in Nigeria and the need to harness our potential human capacity should be key to successful grassroots sport development and fairness in competitive environment. How does our economy sustainably grow sport if we continue to abuse developmental sport, and neglect the effort and sacrifices made by athletes in sports.
The idea of a short term win or a win-at- all- cost policy has eroded the sport developmental growth thereby putting aside talent that should be harnessed to fully represent Nigeria locally and internationally but instead, cheating and collation in the sporting world is the order of the day. As at today, the corruptive practices in sports has eaten down into the root of our country’s sport commission, bribery and doping as well as the exposure of this young grassroots children to sex, alcohol and gender abuse all at the expense of wining. How do we ratify the situation? Having heard and seen all sub-stories, I have seen the inconsistency on screening, the abject neglect of law and order so as to satisfy these nepotic tendencies.
The way forward to nurture grassroots sport development is to set structures that will allow developmental sport occur regularly, bringing in the necessary bodies and parties i.e. state governments, governors, commissioners and the state directors of sport to understand the strategic objective to put up the necessary structures to develop grassroots sports. Also increase the frequency among young people (under 19–20) and most importantly, increase the level of competition in amateurish and purely based sport endeavour.
There is a need to adopt proper means of broadcasting or televising our local based events as this will truncate the plans of corrupt sports officials showing the true value in competitive sports. “Winning is not everything but wanting to win is everything “. After setting up the right structures to nurture these young minds, their participation is no longer based on winning at all cost but on the joy and spirit of competition.
We have to make sure we get a platform where a lot more people outside the current levels of civil servant in ministries anticipate, private sectors participate, social media enthusiast, sports enthusiasts across the board participate in the organization of these events.
The solution to the menace of corruption begins with a monumental support of grassroots developmental sports. We need to get more involved, invest more and bring in the right bodies and sports regulatory agencies in order to curb this cancer called corruption out of the scheme. This will lead to a comeback for sports in Nigeria whereby true human endeavour is given a chance to be showcased for a better projection of what it means to compete and not winning at all cost. It is not too late for Nigeria and the youths that are our future to go out with the right example to be able to make Nigeria proud.
–Enahoro is a sports analyst and coordinator, Kids and Play