Benin - Anslem Ojezua, the chairman of All Progressives
Congress, Edo State, says the National Sports Festival is currently failing in
its development goals.
Ojezua served as Edo State sports commissioner when the
state came second at the 2006 National Sports Festival, but believes more
should be done to develop sports at a grassroots level.
"Quite unfortunately, we are not doing the right thing
(at grassroots level)," said Ojezua.
"We are far from where we are supposed to be in sports
development. Perhaps because sports have been commercialised, we now have a
mercenary system. In our time, we kept the athletes in employment and trained
them night and day but across the country now, you see states going to poach
athletes from other states when the NSF is approaching.”
“They don’t develop their sports; school sports is nowhere
now. It’s unfortunate. You hardly find schools with sporting facilities these
days. We need to be less impatient; there must be a well thought out plan to
develop sports over a period of time and school sports is not negotiable."
Asked if he felt the National Sports Festival in particular
was failing, Ojezua said: "I would say it’s failing. It’s not achieving
its objectives. As a matter of fact, when they took the decision to reintroduce
professionals, then we admitted the failure of the sports festival because we
are not achieving the objectives of the event."
Ojezua does not believe that having professionals compete at
this level alongside amateurs is good for either group.
"The truth is that if you fail to plan, you plan to
fail," he said. "There is no substitute for hard work and you must
follow due process; catch them young, train them and showcase them at the
sports festival level, competing with their own peers. The professionals are
not their peers. If they (pros) compete at that level, it means they are not
“There are lots of open competitions where these
amateurs can go for exposure all over the world but the NSF is essentially for
the unknown athletes. Hopefully, if they are world beaters, scouts will come
and expose them and in turn, they become professionals."
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