Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is set to choose six universities in the six geo political zones as center of sporting excellence, the Minister, Mr Sunday Dare, has said.
Speaking when he paid a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, Kwara state, Professor Sulyman Abdulkareem, ahead of the National Youth Games taking place in the Institution, Sunday said the university is a prime candidate considering its multi sports facilities in one location.
“We plan to identify one university in each of the six geopolitical zones and confer on them center of excellence and this university is a prime candidate. There would be a committee to look into the entrees. The chosen universities will have partnership with the Ministry and would be linked with other universities in Europe and America. Private investors would come into the universities to build facilities.”
Citing examples of Lagos State University and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, that have given trials to talented students seeking admission, Sunday explained that the scheme aimed at building a durable partnership between sports and academics to ensure that potential national athletes can equally access the best of education.
Sunday Dare, who cited funding as the main challenge facing sports development in Nigeria, said that expectations from Nigerians are very high. “Nigeria is a sports loving nation, and though sports development in this country has had challenges, there is hope for a brighter future.
“Sports development has had a trajectory truncated because of funding but there has never been dearth of talents in Nigeria. We look forward to corporate bodies coming in to support sports development. We want to see corporate organisations come to build stadia and invest in sports.
“We intent to harness the talents, build technical capacity. We want to build a new generation of coaches, athletes and technical officials. We want to build a business model around sports because sports is a big business and we intend to make it big business in Nigeria,”
Prof. Sulyman Abdulkareem expressed delight that Nigerian athletes to the African Games some of whom started at the NYG in Ilorin did well in Rabat, Morocco. He urged the Minister to see whatever the ministry can do to add value to the Institution, and to give room to University staff to partake as sports officials in competitions.