The need for all stakeholders to exert tireless effort in taking Nigeria’s sports to eldorado through steady grassroots sports development took centre stage during the one-day Lecture Series organised in honour of late media guru Olajide Fashikun by Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), FCT chapter.
They also agreed that the best way to immortalise fiery Fashikun was to replicate laudable sporting initiatives he stood for.
Minister of Youth and Sports development, Sunday Dare, and other top sports personalities in the country, including the erstwhile Director General of the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Al-Hassan Yakmut, Chairman of FCT Football Association Alhaji Adam Mouktar Mohammed, harped on the need for relevant stakeholders to join hands in development of sports at the grassroots.
The d-day actually started with a well-researched and delivered paper title; “Exhausting the Cycle of Grassroots Sports Programming for Consistent Podium Success” by Mallam Yakmut inside the MKO Abiola National stadium in Abuja as part of 2019 SWAN week.
Mallam Yakmut, former Nigerian Volleyball international and Secretary to the Civil Defence, Fire, Immigration and Prisons Services Board, said Nigeria’s greatest challenge in the quest for podium success in sports was lack of sustainability of grassroots programming system.
He said the enablers that make grassroots programming system like school sports stick and succeed are not readily available, and called for collaboration among the relevant agencies for the development sports at the grassroots.
“The challenge in the country is youth engage and not youth empowerment. The youth are not engage to discover their talents in proper way. Talents are identified in a very unorganized manners and after win world youth championship we will not hear of the talents gain. Where is the school sports programme?
“Today, the culture of sporting competitions among secondary schools is virtually dead. What make game-masters popular more than the principals in those days was school sports competitions. Private schools, unfortunately, are far more fixated on pumping children with academic work at the expense of a simultaneous building of their body as well.
“The enablers for grassroots programming system are facilities, financial supports, research and documentation and equipment. So, relevant agencies need collaborate together to develop sports at the grassroots.”
Youth and Sports development, Mr Dare, who was represented at the event by Mrs Blessing Lere-Adam, Director of Press, said the ministry is prioritising grassroots sports while exploiting other ways of reviving interest at that level.
She said the minister has reactivated the Headmaster and Principal Cup competitions in primary and secondary schools, while a Centre for Sports of Excellence are being considered to be in each of the geo-political zones.
While commending FCT SWAN leadership for organising the lecture in memory of Late Olajide Fashikun, the Minister said the only way the late veteran sports journalist would be immortalize was to promote his ideal of investigative and balance reporting.
Chairman of the FCT council of NUJ, Emmanuel Ogbeche, said there is a disconnection between the grassroots and elite sports development, and challenged members of the FCT SWAN to always hold the administrators accountable by asking the right questions in unison like late Fashikun.
The FCT FA Chairman Alhaji Mouktar and President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Engineer Habu Ahmed Gumel, who was represented by Abdullahi Muhammed and other speakers at the occasion, commended FCT SWAN for organising the event in memory of late fearless sports journalist.
The chairman of the FCT FA later donated N200, 000 to the family of late media sage.