School sports as panacea for social vices

Like their counterparts in other states, the Kwara State Police Command is making a lot of efforts towards eradicating crime in the society but despite their toil, we continue to hear tales of kidnap, advanced fee fraud and rituals, among other crimes in the state.
Of late, it seemed intelligence gathering and other approaches of the police are not just enough to stop the unwavering crime rate in our society hence there is the need for our government to look for alternative means of complementing the tireless efforts of our security agencies.
To curb social vices such as drug abuse, cultism, kidnapping, robbery and fraudulent practices among youths, the Kwara State Government must re-introduce sports competition among primary and secondary schools.
Kwara State in the past unearthed many budding talents in sports through several youth competitions and inter-school contests and it will not be a bad idea if the state return to its old ways in sports development.
During an exclusive interview with the Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Hon Nuhu Kale Ayo, I was particularly delighted to hear him talk about the intention of the ministry to partner the Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development and the Kwara State Universal Education Board in order to discover talents through inter-school competitions.
After the commissioner made the revelation and also reiterated it on a widely followed radio station in the state, I was waiting in anticipation of seeing such plan actualised but few months after, nothing concrete has been achieved in that regard.
To ensure the inter-school competition is sustained if eventually actualised, it is imperative for the state government to look for title and other sponsors.
Also, for effective management and enhanced performance, the competition should be flagged off in zonal format among each of the 16 local governments of the state.
Events to be competed for by both public and private schools in Kwara should include athletics, football, table tennis, basketball, volleyball, hockey, and tennis, among others.
To reduce cost, the grand finale of various events may later be hosted at the Kwara State Stadium, Ilorin, for a period of two to three weeks among the schools.
Aside sports masters in various schools saddled with the task of coordination of the pupils, the government will do well by despatching coaches in different sports to most of those schools for better performance.
In advanced countries, most of the renowned athletes were discovered in their teens and nurtured by high profile coaches with first rate facilities. In Nigeria, the situation is different as some of our athletes came to prominence at a time their foreign counterparts had already won all laurels available to be won and already considering sequestration from the sport.
If Kwara and other states in the country had concrete plan on how to unearth and develop talents in sports, most of the athletes representing Nigeria into their late 30s would have long quit the stage for younger ones.
Our failure to provide enabling environment to discover and nurture talents in various events explains the reason Nigeria has continued to struggle at the Olympics and other international competitions.
Imagine the government providing sport facilities in every ward in the state, Kwara will end up having 193 of such facilities, a development which will drastically reduce youths unrest and crime rate in the state.
Additionally, the availability of training facilities will in no small measure help in throwing up talents that will not only represent Kwara in Sports Festival but also athletes that will win laurels for the country in international tourneys.
Many of our youths that will have channelled their energy and time to sporting events have continued to waste the larger part of their time on social media and other platforms looking for avenue to swindle unsuspecting members of the public. Among those that have taken to thuggery in the state are many ‘Anthony Joshua,’ ‘Floyd Mayweather,’ Usain Bolt’ and ‘Obafemi Martins’, all waiting to be discovered. It is incumbent on the government to take them off the streets by providing the enabling environment for them to thrive and exhibit the talents in them.
Beyond echoing the partnership with the Ministry of Education and SUBEB, the Kwara State Ministry of Sports must act now by returning inter-school competitions as early as 2018.  We can no longer allow our abundant sports talents to continue devoting their time  and energy to nefarious adventures and unproductive activities.

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