The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has expressed his confidence that sports in Nigeria will move to a different and higher level by the time the Sports Industry Policy becomes operational.
It will be recalled that in August 2020, Dare released the Draft 2020 National Sports Industry Policy aimed at restructuring the Sports industry in Nigeria and changing the perception of sports in Nigeria from a solely recreational activity to one that can drive economic development in the country.
To achieve this aim of restructuring the sports industry, the Draft National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) has been structured towards delivering solutions to four salient issues bedeviling the sports industry – Infrastructure, Incentives, Investment and Policy.
The NSIP notes that to drive the sports industry in Nigeria forward, issues relating to the construction, development, and maintenance of sports infrastructure through Public-Private Partnerships; provision of incentives to private sector investors and the production of an implementable policy on sports must be attended to in a robust manner.
The document also highlights the socio-political benefit of sports as a tool of national integration and how sport can be utilized as a tool for national integration. Further, the document highlights the health importance of a viable sports industry and proposes a structure that would be more inclusive, particularly, targeting groups that hitherto felt marginalised from sporting activities like girls, persons living with a disability.
“We are happy we have been able to, through Mr President, reclassify sports from recreation to business and we are taking it several steps up,” Dare said.
The Sports Minister says he and his team have been encouraged by the phenomenal feats Nigerian athletes have achieved this year alone.
“Within a space of two months we have won 19 global medals with eight of them gold from the Olympics to the World Athletics U-20 Championships and the Paralympics. Enoch Adegoke and Grace Nwokocha have proved you can live and train in Nigeria to not only qualify to run at the Olympics but to actually make indelible marks.”
He added: “Adegoke, a home boy, became the first Nigerian in 25 years to qualify for the 100m final. Tobi has now put the icing on the cake. For the sake of these athletes and for the sake of the millions of Nigerians that will be positively engaged, we are determined to forge ahead with our plans to develop sports in all its ramifications. And we have a supportive President Muhammadu Buhari to lean on to actualise our dream of turning sports into business, into a large employer of labour.”