President Goodluck Jonathan will on June 6 launch a new grassroots-oriented sport programme code-named Rhythm ‘N’ Play in Abuja.
The Rhythm’N Play Initiative, a national mobilisation for grassroots sports development programme was conceptualised by the Nigeria Academical Sports Committee, NASCOM, headed by businessman and sports enthusiast, Yemi Idowu.
“There was need to reposition sports in order to facilitate mass participation and early discovery of young sporting talents at the grassroots. At the Presidential Retreat held last year, NASCOM was identified as a key component of government’s efforts at developing sports at the grassroots and Rhythm ‘N’ Play is a brand created by NASCOM to serve as its flagship campaign to drive and revolutionize grassroots sports in Nigeria,” he said.
The NASCOM boss said in Lagos yesterday that the programme would see students engage in sports, music and dance as a way of life. This, he said would encourage mass participation in sports and redirect the energies of the Nigerian youth to more productive pastimes.
“Six major games, including athletics, football, racket games, ball games, Martial Arts and Calisthenics have been selected for the pilot programme,” Idowu said pointing out that after the Abuja launch, the programme would be launched in the various states of the federation.
“Children of school age are the primary participants of Rhythm ‘N’ Play and this includes kids within and outside the formal education system. The campaign is intended to reach children between the ages of 12 – 17 years and encourage active participation in regular sporting activity.
Rhythm ‘N’ Play will be supported by the National Sports Commission (NSC) and Federal Ministry of Education but driven by the NASCOM.
“This way, we can create large followership for, and participation in sports as we want to create an irreversible platform; a template for grassroots sports development.”
The Ministry established NASCOM in 2010 to enhance talent identification and development at the grassroots, especially in schools. In order to ensure optimal fulfilment of this mandate, the Sports Minister dissolved the previous board chaired by former Nigeria international, Chief Segun Odegbami earlier this year.