Nigeria @60: Izamoje says not yet Uhuru for sports


By Olanrewaju Akojede

Lagos, Oct. 5, 2020 As Nigerians continue to share their thoughts on the country’s sports development 60 years after independence, veteran broadcaster, Larry Izamoje, says though Nigeria has left the valley of sports, it is not yet Uhuru.

Izamoje, the Chief Executive Officer of Brilla FM, Nigeria’s first sports radio station, made the assertion on Monday in Lagos while speaking with journalists

“We have left the valley of sports but yet to get to its mountain of excellence. It has to be given more seriousness by government and all.

“According to the United Nations, sport and play are human rights that must be respected and enforced worldwide; sport has been increasingly recognised and used as a low-cost and high-impact tool in humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts.

“Sport by its very nature is about participation, inclusion and citizenship. It stands for human values such as respect for the opponent, acceptance of binding rules, teamwork and fairness (,’’ he told NAN.

The veteran sports journalist and presenter said it was sad enough that sports had yet to get the deserved attention.

“We sadly have not given it that desired attention. Some world sports champs only trace their roots to Nigeria.

“We must look for ways to have home grown champs not waiting to align with champs of Nigerian heritage produced by other countries, example, Anthony Joshua and UFC’s Kamaru and Adesanya,’’ he said.

Izamoje said that some fundamental issues needed to be addressed in order to place sports in its rightful position in Nigeria.

“The following among others have to be addressed: All thriving global sports bodies have in common the use of technology, while there is a serious lack thereof in Nigeria.

“Our sports venues largely lack facilities to broadcast games and other sporting events.

“Athletes too, also need to get comfortable around modern day technologies used in international competitions to be at par with their contemporaries abroad.

“Dearth of sports management expertise should be addressed because low-level demand for sports events in Nigeria is mainly caused by poor packaging,’’ he said.

Izamoje said other things to be considered in the development of sports were high inadequate security at events and infrastructure decay.

“There is inadequate and non-existent media departments in our sports bodies, no media centres at sports venues and poor patronage from advertisers.

“The issue of no-guarantee of returns on investments, poor financial planning and poor events management should be addressed.

“Also, economic and political instability that has bedeviled the country over the years,’’ he said.

Izamoje said: “At 60, we are in the process of having a sports policy. Football cannot respond to the challenges of COVID-19.

“Also, the local league is not on TV as there is no league sponsor.

All considered, we have left the valley of shame as a nation in sports but must do more to get to the dais of respect.’

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