THE call for return of the National Sports Commission, NSC, established as National Sports Council in 1962 under the Ministry of Labour, has been very loud.
In 1971, the Federal Military Government renamed it to National Sports Commission under Decree 34. Over the years, the commission has witnessed name changes. It was annulled by the Buhari regime and merged with the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
The scrapping of the NSC has lumped everything on the supervisory ministry. This has returned sports to the bureaucratic red-tapism inherent in the workings of government.
The administration of sports should not be tied to government bureaucracy. For instance, funds for camping of athletes for major international events are built into the national budget through the estimates submitted by the ministry. This passes through the National Assembly, and until the national budget is passed, the athletes would have to wait.
Another retrogressive aspect of our sports development is government’s appointment of administrative secretaries for all the sports federations. As experience has shown, government goes as low as getting involved in the formation of boards for the federations, instead of allowing federations to elect their leaders. This has created a lot of problems as government candidates are not always acceptable to other stakeholders.
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It is our opinion that government should restrict its interest in sports to providing the enabling environment for sports to thrive by building sports facilities, creating a workable administrative structure that would function as a catalyst to the growth of sports in this country, and returning to National Sports Commission made up of experts in different sports.
It should also initiate a private sector-driven policy to encourage multi-nationals and other corporate bodies to invest in sports through sponsorships.
The twin policy of education and sports should be revisited as there can never be sports development without grassroots development which can easily be achieved through a graduated school system. A return to grassroots sports will help in the discovery of more talents all the time.
The National Sports Commission, if it returns, should be allowed to access funds from the National Lottery Trust Fund established under section 35 of the National Lottery Act, 2005 by the Federal Government to facilitate the achievement of national development goals.
Accessing such funds will ease the burden of funding sports development on government and engender rapid development in the sports sector. It will also, in no small measures, pave way for participation of our athletes in international tournaments, expose them to modern techniques and facilities and provide funds for our coaches to attend refresher courses abroad.
The National Institute for Sports must, as a matter of urgency, be revitalised to perform its role of teaching and retraining coaches and administrators for optimum benefits.