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Let’s Talk More, Not Less

By Ikeddy Isiguzo

I CANNOT claim to know what informed the decision of Sports Minister Ibrahim Bio to convene a sports summit. What we cannot deny however, is that if the man has chosen that line of action in the little time that he would spend around sports to let us talk, we should permit him.

The problem with our sports is not that we are talking too much. I think we are not even talking enough, and when we talk, what are we talking about? Are we not just repeating ourselves, sometimes saying things that had relevance decades ago? Why does nothing change the more we talk?

Is it not because we have elected nothingness for ourselves that we are unable to make progress? The issues are not about the number of times we have talked. The facts are that we have refused to follow the imperatives of development that everyone who is serious adopts.

I support that we keep talking. It is actually better than doing nothing, it is better than the grave silence that rules most of our national affairs, while decisions are taken without information. Sports cannot develop without adequate information with which to tackle the matters that are before us.

Nigeria is unique. Matters have become complicated with ignorance, poverty and poor leadership that pervade everywhere. Many of the people who claim to be in charge of sports or some of those who want to take charge with passionate, noise, and again disruption have nothing to add to the matters of Nigerian sports.

Enthusiasm is no substitute for knowledge. The knowledge and skills gap in sports administration today are too deep to be covered with talks, the type we hear some attention seekers talk. There are too many people who have found that the easiest way to fill the space in the sports media is to say something – no matter what. Some of them have grown from complete obscurity to permanent prominence in our sports space for doing nothing. The secret is to hug the media attention.

I am an advocate for space for everyone, free speech, freedom to share ideas, ideals or whatever thoughts that can help with the development of humanity. However, we are steadily declining to a point where most of the things that we do are self-serving. We speak about sports, but hardly for sports. We think more about what we can get out of sports for us, than what we can give to sports.

The growing divisions about sports stakeholders have more to do with frustrations at the poor performances from sports, in real terms, than the number of times we talk.

Have we been able to establish the linkages between sports and other spheres of our national life?  Have we been able to strategically get sports into our national life with its importance self-evident? Is it possible that sports can stop being seen as one of the areas of national waste? Can sports assume its place in our lives with Nigeria benefiting from all the values sports can add to our national life?

Why is sports increasingly being practised outside the schools? Do we have enough sports facilities and resources available to those who need them? What drives our national sports policies?

There are lots of issues that a sports summit could raise. Hopefully, they would be addressed. It could also be an occasion to appraise the implementation of decisions of earlier gatherings. It could serve purposes like reviewing our performance to find out how backward we are moving, contrary to the wrong interpretations that are given from the few sparkles we occasionally ignite. The forum could be used to determine how to halt the free fall that our sports has hit.

More importantly, we could find out why the National Sports Commission still runs without a law, one of the factors that has made it impossible for it to attract staff who know what a commission for sports should be doing.

Really, there is a lot to talk about and we should not miss any opportunity to talk.


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