NSC Director General, Chief Pat Ekeji
By Olawale Ajimotokan
The desire of Nigerian enthusiasts to see the game of golf thrive at the grassroots has been defeated as the National Sports Commission (NSC) made no appropriation for golf projects in the 2012 budget.
NSC/Sports Ministry officials recently appeared before the House of Representatives Sports Committee to defend the proposed spending of N6.8billion for the year.
But surprisingly no capital provision was made for golf in the year even though NSC received over N1billion to install 44 mini stadia across the geo political zones in addition to other grassroots facilities in 2011.
Golf is one of the 37 national sports associations with direct affiliation to the NSC, but the Nigeria Golf Federation (NGF) has since 2009 been handed to the Consolidated Management Consultant Limited (CMCL) under the private sector partnership programme to oversee the development of golf in the country.
But regardless of whatever private arrangement with CMCL owned by Otunba Olusola Adekanola, development of game is still within the purview of the sports commission.
Last year, NGF unfolded the plan to popularize the game by installing driving ranges across the country.
The strategic plan, if it comes to fruition, will result in provision of golf ranges in each of the country’s six geo political zones and help to remove the ingrained mindset of elitism often associated with the game in Nigeria.
It will also help popularise the game ahead of the return of golf to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
As against a golf course, a driving range is a parcel of land where golfers can hit a ball and work on their pitch, chips and putts (short game). But most essentially, its provision in Nigeria will easily attract kids from disadvantaged background and demystify the notion that their entry contact with the game must as a rule, be as caddies.
More than 95 per cent of Nigeria’s professional golfers came into association with golf as caddies. But it appears government is paying lip service to the game in relation to football as the gains made by golf in Nigeria can be tied to the private sector.
For instance, almost all the courses in Nigeria are not only privately owned but are maintained through membership subscription and green fees.