The sports sector, from inception of its organogram, is factored to be a practical arm comprising men and women of all ages who are talented either in single or multiple events. It has no prerequisite of academic degree to qualify a person to participate in his chosen sports nor does it have age limit for participation.
Although the grassroot sports are emphatic on the age category, this is considering the efficacy of first foundation termed “catch them young’. Most times this is done in collaboration with primary and secondary school proprietors who are encouraged to initiate inter house sports that help to attract the child as part of life curriculum.
The school inter house sports exposes the child to colourful attires of sports and games. The presence of the parents and guardians during the inter house competitions also encourages the child to see sports as fun and a game that presents gifts as reward to winners, thereby increasing their aspirations for greater participation.
Even one’s daily life activities include exercises which are sports oriented. Exercise and ‘Walk’ in any way it’s seen is no longer an ordinary fitness activity in today’s world but an Olympic and World Championship event with rewards attached to it. Medically, people are advised to exercise often in order to deter stroke attacks and to normalise regular blood flow in the body system.
Senator John Enoh, before emerging as the minister of Sports Development, from his intuition, already saw himself as a would-be sports person. His humanitarian contributions to the society under the auspices of his NGO “JOE” speak volumes of him not only as saving “diabetic patients” but also proffering solutions to walkable ideologies which give credence to the saying “health is wealth”.
A sports man and woman must first be hale and hearty, endowed with a sound mind and good thinking faculty, before he or she can excel in the sporting field. Sporting activities as we all know, involve the heart, extraction of sugar through sweat, a normal blood pressure and circulation. This truth will certainly be at the back of the Hon Minister’s mind.
Prosecuting sports invariably involves a large financial outlay which must be dexterously managed. The Hon. Minister, having read public finance, has an added advantage as he sets about managing the intricate finances in sports, more so as the events there are capital intensive. Many past ministers had only been very particular in approving funds for events without initiating programmes that can make sports generate its own funds and become attractive to investors, such that can make the sector financially supportive to the government, as obtainable in countries like Brazil, Jamaica, Germany, among others.
One expects that past footballers and athletes, upon retirement from active service, would deploy the benefit of their vast exposure and rich experiences in drawing government’s attention to sports as a lucrative industry rather than being more or less dependent retirees. In that light I say congratulations to Kanu Nwankwo who, in like manner with the Hon. Minister, initiated the “Kanu Heart Foundation” to support the less privileged.
It is note worthy that the minister was trained in Harvard University, like some others, but is highly skillful, notably, in leadership, strategic planning, and financial management in addition to his humanitarian services. These virtues of his “to save and give” will of course guide him to plan ahead in line with other countries to enable him avert embarrassing situations in sports which most times are caused by short sightedness and ignorance.
Although the past ministers managed to bridge the gap or the delay in registering early for important events, a more experienced person is expected to do better with advanced planning particularly for world events and, above all, ensure that flight tickets are booked early before any increases as seen regularly in the foreign exchange market.
Interestingly, Senator Enoh was the chairman, House of Representatives committee in finance and appropriation, and senate committee on finance. His vast experience should be able to enhance his restructuring and organisational re-engineering of the ministry. The staff and general public, who know his antecedents and practicalities in his preceding mandates, are eagerly expecting to see the renewed hope mantra of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu government get into action in sports development.
His selection of good developers of the mind and sport programmes, including genuine professionals in the departments and intelligent persons that can deliver results, like the secretary general of AFN, Rita Mosindi, Mr Peter Njoku in basket ball, Amina in para athletics and other relevant persons, will surely help reposition the sector as a critical economic domain of attraction in Nigeria.
Being a seasoned law maker and a politician of high pedigree, the minister knows the right places to speak and to voice out his ministry’s challenges in areas that may be profitable to both their budget and progress. Enoh does not seem to be a man of many words but a practical and critical observer that responds with a subtle smile.
As people look up to persons in high authorities, it will be encouraging also for such people not to undermine the African belief system that may run down good efforts and wishes of execution of proposals. Thus, there is the need for sincere friendship, support and prayer from everyone that is involved, either directly or indirectly, in our nation’s sporting progress.
Nwokorie is a press officer, Ministry of Sports Development.