Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has said that the Federal Government is ready to discover talents in other sports apart from football for proper grooming and exposure.
He made the submission while speaking at the maiden edition of DAD Foundation Youth Table Tennis competition held in honour of the late Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oladunni Oyewumi Ajagungbade III.
Bolaji Oluwafemi defeated Akeem Amao 11-5, 11-9 to claim the top prize of the competition.
Dare urged the participants to combine academics with sports just as he pointed out that there a lot of opportunities for them in sports.
“I believe in the power of sports not just to promote peace but to also engage our youths. At the national level, I have travelled round the country and I’m still saying it, 70 percent of those involved in sports, especially competitive sports, representing Nigeria, communities are youths.
“It is a natural thing to engage the youth and make them productive, as a natural place where you can engage their talents for good and it also a natural place where they can pursue a career and I think that is a challenge. We have to engage our youths meaningfully now, not just white collar jobs, what about sports? That is why I have been driven by the idea of turning sports into business, a full career, you can be a lawyer and succeed likewise in sports because there is a template around it.
“Coming from Ogbomoso, I have seen the love for sports especially football and not why other sports? The best table tennis player in Nigeria and one of the best in the world, Aruna Quadri is from Oyo State and I said let’s start from there. That is why we are here today to discover talents for other sports.
“This is a centre that has about five different sports, boxing, basketball, 5-a-side football pitch, badminton and tech ball court.
“In another one month, we are going to have a state wide table tennis championship here in Ogbomoso. This is a youth sports arena and we would invite all those who can play table tennis to come and compete.
“From there, is about grassroots sports development, we must discover talents from the grassroots and that is what we are doing and from the championship, we would produce talents both for the U-15, U-20 teams and then, we can now feed them to the Table Tennis Federation to groom them and expose them and then, Nigeria has a chance to produce more stars in the near future.
“As a Minister, I know it, I have experienced it and I have seen it, what the Federal Government is doing now under President Mohammadu Buhari is revolutionary, reclassifying sports from recreation to business, it has never happened before. A policy on sports as business will soon come, so there is a future, career and great opportunities in sports.”
Meanwhile, representative of chiefs from the Soun Palace, Alaaje of Ogbomoso, HRH Oba Sunday Ademola thanked the Sports Minister for the gesture and applauded him for naming the championship after their late monarch.