By Chris Chmezie
Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has hinted that the avalanche of sporting potentials in the state would be harnessed to make youths productively engaged.
The Governor made this known at a partnership briefing between the state government, Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) and Nigeria Sports Development Fund Incorporated held in his office yesterday.
He said the state government was prepared to put everything into sports development because of its strategic importance in nation building and as a profitable venture through which youths could live comfortably.
While describing the tripartite partnership as a worthwhile venture that will positively impart the socio-economic lives of citizens of the state, Akeredolu said sports has the capacity to promote healthy society and individuals.
The Governor, who described Sports as an exercise that promotes healthy society, added that sports build a strong body where sound mind resides.
He further hinted that Sports can build a nation faster than economy, saying whatever we have to do to make sports meet the needs of our youths would be done”, the governor said.
Ealier, facilitator of the project, who is also the Director-General of Nigeria Sports Development Fund Incorporation, Mr Olajide Fashinkun, said the central focus of the project was to take the burden of sports financing away from the shoulders of government.
He added that the project will as well, scout for raw talents in sports across the state; develop such talents to stardom and support the state economy through earnings from sports programmes.
Fashinkun said for the actualization of developing sports at the grassroots throughout the country, Six National Sports Development Centres have been approved by the Athletics Federation of Nigeria to coordinate the initiative.
He noted that one centre would be sited in each geopolitical zone and that the centre for Southwest Nigeria would be in Ondo State consequent upon the favourable disposition of the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu-led administration to grassroots development of sports.
The Facilitator, who said fund raising would be by a private participation process within the state, called for an update of the law regulating the State Lottery and Pools Betting Agency to conform with modern day realities that would enable the state retain twenty percent of funds raised in the state to develop other sectors of her economy.
He stated that the Ondo State centre would concentrate on at least five sports which include : Swimming, Tennis, Table Tennis, Athletics and Baseball
The Team leader who is also the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, Hon Ibrahim Gusau commended Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for his commitments to sports development and said dividends from such ventures would always come in leaps and bounds.
The AFN President said who was accompanied on the visit by the some National Secretariat Staff led by the AFN Secretary General, MrAmechi Akawo described sports as a veritable vehicle of national cohesion, a money spinning venture and one of the world largest employer of youths.
In a chat with Government House Reporters, Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Hon Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye, said there would be six Sports Development Centres in Ondo State, two per each Senatorial District, to enable the initiative of catching sports talents at the grassroots be thorough and all inclusive.
He expressed the hope, that the tripartite partnership would rejig the sports sector in the state and make it a revenue earner rather than being a spending sector.