The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Chief Sunday Dare, has called on stakeholders to pay close attention to sporting activities in secondary schools, saying that budding athletes that will represent the country on the global stage can be discovered among students.
Dare spoke on Wednesday during the Paris Africana International School’s Annual Inter-House Sports competition in Abuja.
The event was graced by former Super Eagles’ stars such as the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Daniel Amokachi; the President, Nigerian Players’ Union, Tijanni Babangida; a 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist, Emmanuel Babayaro; and NFF Technical Officer, Garba Lawal.
The Minister said Nigeria could become a hub of sports if stakeholders in the sector focused more on talent discovery and grooming through periodic competitions organised in primary and secondary schools.
Represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Kola Daniel, the Sports Minister stated that early quality education and sports development must go hand-in-hand for the nation to become outstanding in the world of sports.
According to him, “One of our clear mandates is sports development, and the power of sports can never be undermined. I deemed it fit to be part of this programme knowing fully well that a bulk of ex-international players who have represented this country (in football competitions) were discovered through school sports.
“In schools, when activities like volleyball, basketball and others are done as periodic activities, it will be easier to scout for talents. That is one reason why inter-house sports plays a significant role in every school. And again, it’s so important to know that when you discover the young, you will be able to have them for a very long time in the national team.”
Speaking on behalf of the ex-Super Eagles star, Emmanuel Babayaro said they were ready to provide mentorship and support to young talented students who have a flair for sports.
‘We will always provide mentorship and support to these kids, so they grow to be better than we were,” he assured.
Babayaro urged the students to follow their dreams regardless of the challenges they may encounter.
In his remarks, the Director of Paris Africana International School, Engr. Gbenga Nowoola disclosed that the school was poised to catch the students, young during their formative years in other to groom them into becoming world stars.
According to him, the school will continue to provide a platform for students to hone their skills to professional levels.