By Peter Uwumarogie
Gombe – Some sports enthusiasts in Gombe State have called on the state government to prioritise sports development as a tool to engage youths and combat drug abuse.
They made the appeal while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Gombe on Tuesday.
Usman Yakubu, said: “ The state government should shift attention to sports as a way of cutting down the high rate of drug abuse.
“Sports whether football, basketball or even taekwondo have the capacity to engage the youth and when such happens, there will be less youths to abuse drugs.
“Since no sport supports the use of drugs, that makes sports the best tool to fight the menace of drug abuse. Gov. Inuwa Yahaya has proven to be a listening governor; hence we are appealing to him.”
Barkuwa Kalla, Gombe-based sports analyst, while appealing to the government to use sports as a tool for youth employment, said the sector had the capacity to take millions of youths off the street through meaningful engagement.
Kalla appealed to the state government to set up a special committee to assess the sector with a view to bringing out the potential that sports hold in development and youth reformation.
“A lot of committee have been set up in various sectors to address issues but unfortunately nothing of such has been done for sports. Sports lovers are surprised and anxious in that regard.
“ We expect the new administration to address this issue quickly because Gombe State people are sports lovers. Also sports like football is time bound. The league will soon commence so the team needs adequate preparations,” he said.
Kalla observed that sports development at the grassroots had not been given due attention in the past, adding that grassroots sports development was key to building peace among communities.
Corroborating Kalla, Abubakar Wada, said the new administration of Gov. Yahaya should set up a special committee to revamp activities in the industry.
Wada said: “ Sports have the ability to heal the youth of any social vice and that’s why we are concerned about it. The government should look in that direction to create jobs too.
“If the youths are given a platform to showcase their talents, you will agree with me that Gombe can produce athletes for all kinds of sports that will make Nigeria as a whole proud.”
Mr Emma Sobok, however, disagreed on the need for a special committee for sports, saying: “ It is not necessary since we have the state has a sports commission. It will amount to duplication of function.
“I rather wish that every sport association should have a strong chairman, board members and seasoned coaches. Once the board is strengthened financially, sports glory will be returned to Gombe,’’ he said.
Damaryam Kenneth, Gombe State Chess Coach who spoke to NAN, decried that finance had been the major challenge militating against sports development in the state.
Kenneth recalled that in 2015, the state government set up boards for all sports which according to him, was a good move.
He, however, lament that such effort geared towards sports development in the state was wrecked by paucity of funds and lack of interest in other sports aside football and basketball.
The chess coach said that chess had proven to be effective in combating drug abuse in developed countries, adding that Gombe State could take a cue from such countries to rehabilitate and prevent our youths from drugs abuse.