The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has challenged all stakeholders in the Sports sector to see the COVID19 Pandemic as an opportunity to innovate, to rethink policies and to reassess priorities for the long term.
The Minister said this on Thursday 7th May, while presenting his keynote speech during a webinar organised by the Ministry in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) themed, “Post Covid-19 Nigeria: Impact and Opportunities for the Sports Sector.”
Mr. Dare said the health crisis presents a chance for government to reappraise its position in the sporting economy as well as the position of other stakeholders.
“This crisis urges us to address priorities linked to health, resilience to disease and physical fitness,” he said.
“Sport and physical activity contribute to making societies and citizens more resilient. In the middle of a pandemic, the contribution of sport to preventive health care becomes increasingly important.
“Stopping the spread of COVID-19 may cause unprecedented changes to daily routines but ensuring the empowerment, health and wellbeing of citizens through it all remains of the utmost priority.
“That’s why sport and health-enhancing physical activity is very important right now and must be brought right into the heart of all policies to rejuvenate the economy and empower the citizenry, especially young people.
“In these circumstances it is important to establish quick and adequate support and a clear action plan to mitigate the adverse impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis on the Nigerian sport sector.”
Mr. Dare called for strategies to attract Investment funds to address the consequences of the crisis adding that there is no gainsaying how important it is to stimulate a sustainable sport sector (both public and private) in the context of efforts by the government to mitigate the current unemployment crisis being faced as a result of economic downturn.
“That is why we are here today to examine what a Post COVID19 Nigerian Sports Industry should look like. To dialogue with as many stakeholders as we can gather in one place through the accessibility of digital technology and to incorporate our findings and outcomes into what we believe will be a robust National Sports Policy that will start us off on the journey towards an industralised sports sector,” he said.
One of the panelists, CEO of Digital Sports Africa, Mr. Emeka Eyandike, who joined in the webinar from Johannesburg, advocated for the development of databases for coaches and athletes and the documentation of media icons. He also called for specialists to be in charge of sports administration.
Acting Director of Federations and Elite Athletes Development Department at the Ministry, Dr. Simon Ebhojaiye, suggested the return of individual and non-contact sports following prescribed guidelines. He also encouraged the production of local athletes-friendly face masks. He added that this would be a good time to carry out online courses for coaches on anti-doping.
The President, Badminton Federation Francis Orbih, spoke about the need for restructuring of sporting federations around policy, governance, transparency etc, saying it will lead to the industrialisation of sports and build a veritable sports economy.
CEO of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Yewande Sadiku, said there is a need to have good government policies and for government could provide non-financial incentives.
On the 17th December 2019, the Ministry and the NESG signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on making sports a business in Nigeria. The NESG has since organised events to educate stakeholders and ensure their buy-in for the initiative. It is expected that the end result of the partnership will be the development of a new national sports policy for Nigeria.