The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has renewed the call for use of sports as a means of tackling youth restiveness and endemic poverty in the country.
Debo Oshundun, Chairman, SWAN, Lagos State Chapter, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos to commemorate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
Oshundun told NAN that the day had brought to fore the need for the government to wake up to its responsibility of harnessing the potentials in sports towards ending poverty and unemployment.
“Sports today has moved from what it used to be as merely for recreation or entertainment, to a more serious human endeavour and profession.
“There is now sports science, medicine, psychology, administration and other professional endeavours.
“Unfortunately for us in Nigeria, we are not catching up with the reality of sports as a potential job creator.
“There are many opportunities the government can latch on to stem the rising unemployment through sports,” he said.
Oshundun said that the government should create the enabling environment for sports to thrive, then encourage the private sector to contribute its own quota as well.
“Government is not doing enough and therefore, the private sector is shying away. The government needs to create an enabling environment such as the provision of sports infrastructure and facilities.
“The government should also encourage the private sector to invest in sports by probably granting incentives such as tax rebate, all these is necessary for sports development.
“Nigeria is blessed with great potentials in sporting activities and our youths are also interested in it; we need to channel the energies of these youths to sports.
“We can engage our youths effectively in sports and not only in sports but other professional associations will also benefit from the good fortunes sports can provide,” the SWAN chairman said.
NAN reports that The General Assembly of the United Nations decided to proclaim April 6 as “International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.” This date commemorates the inauguration, in 1896, of the first Olympic Games of the modern era, in Athens.