Edo State Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, has said investing in sports remains one of the ways to tackle youth restiveness and retirement issues as far as Nigerian athletes are concerned.
Shaibu stated this at the Nigeria Olympians Association (NOA) banquet and award ceremony which was held at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja with the theme “The Labour of our heroes past.”
He said if given the necessary attention, the sports sector will not only transform Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but will also reduce crime drastically among the youth.
“I think sports is one sector that has been neglected in this country and it is one of the most vital and important sectors that can transform Nigeria in terms of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and in terms of also reducing the level of crime that will now have in the country.
“If you invest in sports, I can tell you that the Boko Haram that we are all afraid of will be a thing of the past. The unrest that we are talking about today will be a thing of the past. I work out the mathematics. If for instance every state faces 15 sports and has those kids in their states fully involved, you will be taking over a million young men and women away from crime.
“They will be active and you can imagine that. In football alone in Edo State, about 5,000 young men and women directly have been taken out of the streets. When you multiply that by 37 sports in one state, you will see the number.”
The deputy governor who was also one of the awardees at the event said it is high time sports is combined with education and skills as it will give room for the athletes to fall back on after their sporting careers.
“Sports is not just a social activity, it is a business. It is time to combine sports and education. For some of them that cannot go to school, they should combine skills with sports because what we are suffering now is when these players retire, some of them are not skilled in any labour, some don’t have education and they suffer till they die. Nobody remembers those days when they were representing the country.
“Just the way we now have a policy that has taken sports from to business, we should have policies that will also make it mandatory for learning skills in sports and education in sports. And that is why we are building sporting facilities in schools and not outside schools so that we can catch them young and combine education. And when you include sports for these young ones, they are mentally and fully prepared for education.
“And when we do that, we would have dealt with retirement issues that will not see these athletes not being catered for. With this on the ground, they will be celebrated while they are alive and they will also enjoy their retirement.
“But for now they are not enjoying their retirement because nobody takes care of them. I want to thank the Nigeria Olympians Association (NOA). They are coming up. If more associations like this come up, I think we are going to deal with the issue of players’ retirement and by the grace of God, we pray that all our stars will be celebrated in their lifetime so that they will see that what they have done for Nigeria, making Nigeria proud and putting Nigeria on the map is not in vain and they are appreciated.”