Amidst Covid 19, Lagos Unveils New Strategy for Sports Development

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Grassroots community sports development, Girl-child initiative programme on the menu

Kunle Adewale

The Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Mr. Sola Aiyepeku has unveiled a variety of plans being put in place by the commission to take sports development in Lagos State to a new level should the current wave of Covid-19 pandemic continue to affect school sports development and other avenues for talent hunt.

The state government also reiterated its readiness to ensure that Lagos remains Nigeria’s hub for sports and that the youth are constantly engaged in a way to enable them exhibit their God given talents in sports.

Speaking at an interactive session with selected sports journalists on Tuesday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere to unveil the commission’s programmes for sports in the New Year. Aiyepeku admitted that though Covid-19 pandemic took a lot of shine off most of the commission’s planned programmes in 2020, he said moving forward in 2021, the commission has mapped out strategies to keep the state’s athletes busy, while adhering strictly to all health protocols to guard against the spread of coronavirus.

“Our plan is to combine education and sports because we want to place premium attention on school sports in Lagos State in 2021,” Aiyepeku said via Zoom.
“The reason for this focus is to unearth these young athletes at their tender ages. We want to discover them, nurture and groom them to become elite athletes in the nearest future.

“The Sports Commission will work in partnership with the Lagos State Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth and Social Development to achieve this goal. In as much as our primary focus is on school sports, it would not be at the detriment of other categories of athletes. Other athletes will not suffer neglect as we want to bring multi-level layer of success to Lagos State,” Ayeipeku said.

“But for Covid-19 pandemic, the school sports programme was planned to take off last April and as a result we had to put it on hold.
“This year we want to create platforms where our talents will be out to express themselves, give them talent profession, though it will be gradual, we must however start somewhere,” he noted.

Aiyepeku revealed that in the next few weeks, the state will unveil a programme tagged Grassroots Community Sports Development targeting at talents outside schools. This programme, according to him, is to rejuvenate sporting activities across the nooks and crannies of the state with the objectives of keeping the youth actively engaged and to give them rewards and honours for their talents.

He also disclosed that the state will also come out with the Girl-Child initiative programme as well as the Disabled Games for the physically-challenged athletes.
“Whatever happens, we are looking forward to doing things that are tailored towards the development of sports and our athletes in Lagos State,” Aiyepeku stated.

On his part, the Director General of the sports commission, Mr. Oluwatoyin Gafaar said that Lagos State is noted for its good and robust welfare packages for its athletes and officials. He assured that there are incentives for those athletes that will be discovered.

He said that while observing strictly COVID-19 protocols in all its activities, Lagos State Sports Commission plans to have continuous events throughout the year.