Senator Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna Central) has urged the Federal Government to address the dwindling fortunes of the country’s sports sector.
Sani stated this while receiving the Chairman of Kaduna State Cricket Association, Prof. Adam Ukwenya after a recent outing. He criticisied the manner, federal and state governments neglected the sports sector.
He said there was no sense in governments saying they were creating employment opportunities for youths but still allow neglect to creep into the sports sector.
“How do you neglect a sector which is capable of employing majority of such youths,” the senator said.
He described as a national embarrassment the Super Eagles’ position in the current FIFA ranking and team Nigeria’s poor preparation for the Rio Olympics.
“In addition to these two is Federal Government’s general attitude towards other sports other than football,” Sani said.
He said while Nigeria is a global force in sports, reports from the Rio Olympics have been embarrassing to the nation and its sports lovers.
“Going to the Rio Olympics without adequate preparations, as well as not even having good kits to wear during the opening ceremony, is shameful.
“We have consistently failed the athletes as a country. For such talented, able and willing young men and women to go out there and win laurels, we only rely on miracles and prayers always.
“We have not invested enough in the young athletes, only to embark on last-minute fire brigade approach and expect to win,” Sani said.
The senator said sports is among the most reliable source of foreign exchange for Nigeria and all countries of the world.
“A country like Cuba is globally known is boxing, India in cricket, Brazil and Argentina in football, Kenya and Ethiopia in marathon and the US in basketball.
“They all achieved these because they invested so much in those sports. We need to get our acts together and wake up to the global challenge,” he said.
“We can’t host the Olympics due to paucity of funds, yet we cannot even prepare adequately to participate in the Games which are organized once every four years”.
Sani, who is also a Patron of the state cricket association, urged governments to develop facilities for the athletes to enable them train locally ahead of competitions.
He pledged to ensure support for the development of cricket in Kaduna State.
“Kaduna can be a global force in the game of cricket, if we invest massively in developing the game”.