Fred Agbaje, a 4x100m silver medallist at the 2010 African Championships in Athletics in Nairobi, on Monday advised the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, to give unwavering attention to athletics.
Agbaje, the Founder of Fredrick Agbaje Global Foundation, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) from his base in the U.S.
He said that athletics directly and indirectly added value to the Nigerian economy.
“Congratulations on your appointment as the Minister of Youth and Sports Development. As an ex-track and field athlete, I would like to personally welcome you to the mother of all sports, athletics.
“It is arguably one of the most critical sports in our nation; this is not to downplay other sports, but athletics deserves an unwavering attention.
“Athletics comes with futuristic benefits that impact positively on the community, if given an undivided attention. Athletics is not just about participating in championships or winning medals and breaking records,” he said.
Agbaje, an alumnus of Dickinson State University, noted that athletics had the power of enhancing and promoting communal image.
“With the positive psychic income that comes with athletics, it increases community visibility, enhances community image and brings people of different backgrounds and ethnicity together; these are all common and acceptable postulations.
“I can’t over-emphasise the direct and indirect jobs athletics contribute to the Nigerian economy and the tourism sector,” he said.
According to the Edo-born athlete, the sport (athletics) offers Nigerian youths the opportunity to attend some of the finest universities and colleges in the the world.
He expressed optimism that the minister would not regret giving attention to athletics because of its immense talents.
“Athletics and education in particular create a space for the marginalised and vulnerable youths to find belonging and self-expression.
“Money invested in athletics goes directly toward increasing opportunities for these youths to display their athletics skills and also get educated.
“Sir, you have an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of Nigerian youths through athletics.
“I urge you to take full advantage of it by paying more attention to athletics across the country; we will deeply appreciate it,” Agbaje said.
He urged the minister to consult widely with former athletes and athletics organisations across the nation to ensure that he achieved the goal.
The athlete said that consultation would help the minister to implement a supportive, inclusive and equitable policies and programmes that would keep athletics alive and thriving for generations to come. (NAN)