Lagos – A sports philanthropist, Dawodu Olatunji, says he is sponsoring a football competition to address youth restiveness, gang wars and vices in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos State.

“Governor Akinwunmi Ambode since his assumption of office has done well to curb crime and criminality in Mushin Local Government Area which often arise from idle youths.

“To sustain the relative peace and safety of lives and property his administration has achieved in our environment that is stigmatised for vices and gang wars, I deem it wise to engage youths in the locality through sports.

“We are starting with a football competition in April but will extend to other sports soon,’’ he said on Tuesday in Lagos.

He explained that he drew inspiration to organise the tournament from the importance of sports in engaging youths gainfully and forging unity among people.

Olatunji, an area Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, said that sports were a powerful tool to harness youths’ potential positively, adding that his target was realistic.

“We have lots of sports programmes through which we can engage the youths of Mushin effectively and take them out of vices.

“By April we are organising an Open Talent Hunt Football Competition which will involve all youths in the Mushin locality.

“We are inviting coaches from all over the federation to assist in discovering these talents.

“All Mushin youths are invited as there are no participation fees to be charged. It is for youths to engage themselves.

“The Mushin Local Government Council will also have a chance of selecting footballers out of the contestants for future endeavours.

“The talent hunt will take place at Bishop Aggrey School, Mushin and will be open to all; what they need to do is just to come and showcase their talents,’’ Olatunji said.

The sports devotee said that because all might not want to want to play football, the organisers of the competition were inculcating other sports into the programme.

“We have plans of getting youths involved in other sports such as athletics, table tennis, swimming, tennis and others. The programme is not planned to be a localised one.

“The programme will attract other sports coaches from all over the federation. It could provide the answer to how we can move the nation forward.

“Olympics is around the corner but Nigeria as a participating country has yet to start preparations when others like China started way back two months after the Olympics,’’ he said.

Olatunji charged sports administrators in the country to use sports as a means of getting the youth off the streets by identifying talents in their young ages.

“In Nigeria we don’t engage our youths, we don’t catch them young. In Olympics, we have teenagers from other countries such as China lifting 50kg in weightlifting.

“Nigeria should endeavour to emulate this because we have the same capacity as China; but we have failed in our responsibility to make it happen,’’ he said

Olatuniji said that his agenda to develop youths through sports was one that required the support of all and urged the residents of Mushin and beyond to contribute to make it a success.

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