The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has expressed the ministry’s commitment to discover and develop young sporting talents for the country.
Concise News reports that Ms Ngozi Obiechina of the Press and Publication Unit of the ministry made this known in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
She stated that Dare made the ministry’s position known during reception in his honour by 1991 set of Faculty of Arts and Social Science, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
She added that the minister made it clear that “sports is a major business and there is the need to groom and nurture young talents that
will be able to make the country proud in future.”
She quoted him as saying “I will ensure that the ministry runs programmes that will lift our youths out of unemployment.
“I will also ensure that the ministry attains new height of glory never seen before.”
He promised to perform exceptionally well in his role as minister to justify the confidence reposed in him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Development from grassroots crucial to my vision for basketball in Nigeria, Sports Minister assures
In related news, Sunday Dare on Monday in Abuja said grassroots development of basketball aligns with his vision for overall sports development in Nigeria.
“It is important that the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) works to develop both the male and female teams with the same energy and resources.
“Developing the local leagues is critical to the development of the sport. I also want to see more tournaments organised at grassroots level,” the minister said during a meeting with the NBBF board.
He said the Sports Ministry on its part has an ambitious plan to have at least one basketball court in each senatorial district of the country, complete with instructors.
“Attention should be paid to a deliberate development of the game at the grassroots level, because my vision for sports development is hinged on the grassroots.
“And it is not only in basketball, because we are working on floating a Headmaster’s Cup in primary schools as well as revamping the Principal’s Cup in secondary schools,” Dare said.
The minister said the timing of the meeting with the NBBF could not have been better, as it marked the start of the federation’s preparations towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Nigerian men’s basketball team, D’Tigers, recently at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, booked an automatic ticket for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
They achieved this by defeating Cameroon and China in classification round matches at the World Cup.
“This meeting is significant because it signals the informal start of our preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“With basketball being the first team sport to qualify for the Games, the choice of inviting the NBBF board first in what will be a series of engagements of boards of federations ahead of the Olympics is symbolic,” the sports minister said.
He also congratulated the NBBF for what he referred to as “two years of unprecedented achievements” in basketball, saying Nigerians now have high expectations of basketball.
“Your efforts and sweat have yielded results and I congratulate you. Nigerians are getting used to basketball successes. So, your job is cut out.
“You are now expected to succeed more, develop more and discover more talents for the national teams.
“I have witnessed two years of unprecedented achievements in basketball and it is down to your efforts. I hope we can keep it up,” Dare said.
The minister also said while Nigeria was already late in preparing for Tokyo 2020 which begins about 300 days’ time, the meeting has now marked the start of Nigeria’s informal countdown.
While NBBF’s achievements have been acknowledged, the federation has also been rocked on the other side by leadership crisis, with the factionalisation of its board.
Dare said it was important for all issues to be brought to the table for amicable solutions.
“It is important to bring any contentious issue to the table so that we can collectively deal with such an issue. This is applicable to all federations.
“Yes, there are challenges, ranging from financial to structural, but we will continue to be innovative in managing sports affairs,” he said.
In his remarks, NBBF President, Musa Kida, agreed with the minister that grassroots development was crucial to sustaining the gains of the last few years.
“The federation is taking bold steps to grow the game at the grassroots in a sustainable way. Already, the minister has shown great vision and passion for sports.
“We will continue to work hard to ensure that the game continues to grow in Nigeria,” he said.
Kida thanked the minister for his support during the FIBA World Cup in China, which he said motivated both the players and coaching crew.
“The minister engaged each player and coach during the tournament to motivate the team.
“The men’s national team has qualified for the Olympics by picking the only automatic ticket available to Africa. The women’s team too has assured us that they will book a place at the Games,” he said.
Kida also used the opportunity to update the minister about events in the NBBF.
“We have plans to begin the 2019 Premier League by October and the women’s league has already gone through two windows.
“By mid-October, we will finalise with our sponsors on when the conference phase will commence,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Olusade Adesola, in his remarks spoke briefly, saying: “This is the first of many engagements between the minister and boards of federations, especially those hopeful of a place at the Olympics.
“It is not a surprise that basketball was invited first. Hopefully, the meeting will provide outcomes that will lead to greater achievements in sports.”