Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced that sports will henceforth be considered a business and not just mere recreation.
The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who announced this to State House Correspondents after he presented his ministry’s scorecard to the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House in Abuja, said plans were already in motion to explore all appropriate avenues to transform the classification of sports in the country from mere recreation to a profitable economic activity.
According to NFF to him, it was only in Nigeria where sports were seen as ‘play-play’.
Dare said the ministry has committedly worked to turn sports into an economic industry, where the country can generate billion of revenues.
He also disclosed that the ministry had signed Memoranda of Understanding with relevant organisations and held various inter-ministerial meetings with the sole aim of moving sports as an industry from a mere concept to pure economic action.
‘We realised when we came on board that the National Bureau of Statistics still classified sports as a recreation.
‘And when you look around from South Africa to Brazil even to Jamaica, sports is classified as a business. It is an economic activity.
‘When you look at global statistics it’s a $1.33 trillion industry. When you look at the United Kingdom, it is a $43 billion industry annually. In America, it is $41 billion annually, etc.
‘It is only this country that classifies sports as “play–play” or recreation,’ Dare said.
Speaking of the Ministry’s invested efforts into developing the youths sector, the minister said 7,000 youths had been trained in the IBM Digital Skill Training Programme.
‘The one that we have started, which really gladdens our hearts at the ministry, which is part of our success story, is the IBM Digital Skill Training.
‘As soon as COVID-19 happened, we decided to migrate from an offline platform to an online e-learning platform and within three months, with IBM partnership, we have been able to train 7,000 youths. Most of them have received IBM certifications which they can use to work anywhere in the world.
‘Right now, over 9,000 youths have registered. Some are halfway through their training and that is ongoing,’ Dare said.
‘So, I think youth development in our country and under the ministry of youth and sports development is on a new trajectory and the one that we are looking forward to is the 100 million AfDB Support for the DEEL Programme,’ he said.