Grassroots sports development is the responsibility of the state government and the local government according to Dr Aare Ademola, who is the Director of Grassroots Sports Development, Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, Nigeria.
Contrary to widespread belief that all sole responsibility of sports development in the nation only relies on the shoulder of the sports ministry, Dr Aare clarified the roles of each parastatal.
Speaking on Pensioners’ 106.7 FM’s grassroots sports development program tagged SPORTS DRILL anchored by Raymond Tolulope, the Obafemi Awolowo University graduate said everyone has their role to play.
“It supposes to be the responsibility of the local government and the state government, he said.
“At the federal level, we are just the policy-making organ of the federal government to coordinate all-athletes harness together.
“We are doing that quite alright. We have the National youth games, Youths Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON), the Principal Cup, the “adopt an athlete” initiative. All these are the essence of grassroots sports to identify talents, catch them young when they are still very well. That is basically what we do in grassroots.
The importance of sports cannot be overemphasized, Nigeria has deviated from it and the state of grassroots sports is not encouraging at the moment.
“Presently we are not doing very well because most government sees sports as a non-financial and non-rewarding venture. It has been taken as wasting of money but we are forgetting the fact that if we engage these children in sports they will have less time for crime and less time for negative pranks.
“Sports brings up much-needed unity. It brings peace and more disciplined citizens.
Grassroots sports is basically school sports, today there has been a mass decline in sporting activities in schools. This has affected sports development in the country.
“The school environment does not encourage sports these days. In those days, sports was more entrenched in the curriculum of the schools, both primary and secondary schools but nowadays most of these schools don’t even have the facilities to engage for these children to engage in sports.
“They don’t do Physical Education (PE) any longer. People look at PE and said we don’t want PE. They teach them mathematics, english forgetting that without a sound body, you cannot be a sound student.
“Sports contribute to you being a near-perfect student because when you do physical activities, you are more healthy, your brain relaxes, you are more physically fit and you don’t fall sick.
“All these things are with you till old age. Even at 70 years, you are still very strong and kicking.
“In those days when children play football, they beat them but now they allow them because of the financial reward. The parents are actually bringing their children to the office. I want my child to be in the Super Eagles, I want my child to be in under 15.
Aare who became the Director of Grassroots Sports in the year 2015 further explained that sports have no respect for anyone’s status or origin. It is all about abilities and skills.
“Sports is not something to beg to be included. It is your performance. It is how good you are that determines your inclusion in any team. Sports doesn’t recognise the federal characters, it doesn’t recognise where you come from. It is your ability and your skills that will place in very good stead.
“If you remember when we have the Academicals, Principal’s cup in Lagos, that is when you expose children to sports from that level because that is the foundation of podium success in any country,” he concluded.