Grassroot Sports: Plateau, Taraba Govts. to Revive Inter-schools Competitions

Set to Make Sporting Activities Compulsory in Schools

The Plateau and Taraba Governments have agreed to revive inter-school and age-grade sports competitions in their states.

The Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, Mr Lawandi Datti, disclosed this in an interview on Tuesday in Jos.

Datti said sports competitions would be reintroduced in primary and secondary schools and made compulsory in all schools.

The commissioner said apart from being a form of physical and health education; the initiative would help discover sports talents to represent the state at national and international tournaments.

“The initiative is also to engage the youths meaningfully and keep them away from crime and social vices like drug abuse.”

“To achieve the goal, the sports ministry will work closely with the education ministry and develop a sporting schedule that schools will religiously follow.”

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“Sports facilities like mini stadia across local government councils will be given priority attention to create avenues for young and old athletes to practice their skills.”

“At the state level, the Rwang Pam Stadium will be given a facelift, while the new Zaria Road Stadium under construction will be completed,’’ he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Mr Joseph Gokum, Chairman of the Plateau House of Assembly Committee on Sports, pledged improved budgetary allocation for the sports sector.

Gokum said that the committee was working closely with all sports stakeholders in the state to revive grassroots sports.

The committee chairman said the idea was to hunt for talents and develop them to become national and international stars.

“We are currently working on the 2024 Budget, and what we have before us, as submitted by the Ministry of Sports, is Inter-school competitions, Inter-Local Government competitions, and Governor’s Cup competitions.

“If you notice, such competitions have not been active in recent times in the state. We are going to revive them to help discover talents for the state.

“Apart from budgeting for the competitions, we will do thorough oversight and ensure strict implementation of the plans,’’ he assured.

Mr Suleiman Kwande, Chairman of Plateau Football Association, promised to work with all football stakeholders to prioritize grassroots football development in the state.

Kwande promised to constitute an advisory council of experienced football stakeholders who will constantly advise the board.

“My vision is quite broad, but I will ensure grassroots football flourishes. I will ensure we start secondary school games to discover young talents.

“Female football will also be one of my cardinal objectives as the FA chairman,’’ he said.

Mr Sunday Dachen, Chairman, Weight Lifting Association, told NAN that the association embarked on grassroots mobilisation to create awareness on the game and encourage youths to venture into it.

Dachen, however, said that lack of funding had remained the biggest constraint to development and mobilisation of the sport, especially at the grassroots

Meanwhile, sports enthusiasts in Taraba have called on the state government to prioritise grassroots sports development to enhance social life and create job opportunities for the youths.

The enthusiasts, who spoke with NAN in separate interviews in Jalingo, said grassroots sports development was another way of curtailing youth restiveness and creating a diversion for idle youths.

Mr Joachim Dangana, the Taraba Chairman of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), said grassroots sporting activities, which were the bedrock of sports development in the 1970s and 1980s, had been neglected for a long time in the state.

Dangana said that the neglect had led to the collapse of the Taraba FC and Taraba Queens, which used to play in the Nigeria Premier League.

He said there was hope for the state to take back its lost glory in sports as
Gov. Agbu Kefas had already set up a committee to organise sports festivals featuring youths from all the 16 Local Government Areas to harness budding talents.

Mr Joseph Joshua, the Taraba Commissioner for Youths and Sports, said the state government had already awarded a contract to renovate the Jolly Nyame Stadium and would do the same for other mini stadia across the state to enhance grassroots sports development.

Joshua said that massive grassroots sporting activities would follow the renovation to take youths off the streets and prepare them to represent Taraba and the country in national and international competitions.

Malam Kabiru Jalingo, SWAN’s National Ex- Officio, recalled that Taraba, under the administration of late Gov. Danbaba Suntai, prioritised grassroots sports development by supporting primary and secondary school sports competitions.

Jalingo urged the current administration to revive Inter-School Sports
competitions at all levels to ensure fresh talents were harnessed for overall sports development. (NAN)


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