Sports Minister Backs Calls For Sport Policy Overhaul Post Covid-19 Times

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, challenged all stakeholders in the sports sector to view Pandemic COVID19 as an opportunity to innovate, rethink policies and reevaluate long-term priorities. The minister said this on Thursday, May 7, while presenting his speech during an online seminar organized by the Ministry in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), "Post Covid-19 Nigeria: Impact and Opportunities for the Sports Sector ".

Dare said the health crisis presents a chance for the government to reevaluate its position in the sports economy, as well as the position of other stakeholders.
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"This crisis leads us to address priorities related to health, resilience to diseases and physical conditioning," he said. “Sport and physical activity contribute to making societies and citizens more resilient. In the midst of a pandemic, the contribution of sport to preventive health care is becoming increasingly important.

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“Interrupting the spread of COVID-19 can cause unprecedented changes in daily routines, but ensuring the empowerment, health and well-being of citizens through all of this remains a top priority. That is why sport and physical activity that improve health are very important at the moment and must be at the heart of all policies to rejuvenate the economy and empower citizens, especially young people. In these circumstances, it is important to establish quick and adequate support and a clear action plan to mitigate the adverse impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis on Nigeria's sports sector. "

Mr. Dare called for strategies to attract investment funds to face the consequences of the crisis, adding that there is no denying the importance of stimulating a sustainable sports sector (public and private) in the context of government efforts to mitigate the current unemployment crisis faced as a result of the economic crisis.

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“That's why we're here today to examine what the post-COVID19 Nigerian sports industry should look like. Dialogue with as many stakeholders as we can in one place through the accessibility of digital technology and incorporate our findings and results into what we believe to be a robust National Sports Policy that will start us on the journey towards an industrialized sports sector, " he said.

One of the panel members, CEO of Digital Sports Africa, Mr. Emeka Enyadike, who attended the Johannesburg webinar, defended the development of databases for coaches and athletes and the documentation of media icons. He also called in experts to take charge of sports administration.

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The acting director of the Ministry's Elite Athletes Federations and Development Department, Dr. Simon Ebhojaiye, suggested the return of individual, contactless sports, following prescribed guidelines. He also encouraged the production of face masks for local athletes. He added that this would be a good time to conduct online courses for anti-doping coaches.

Badminton Federation President Francis Orbih spoke of the need to restructure sports federations around politics, governance, transparency, etc., saying that this will lead to the industrialization of sport and build a true sports economy.

The CEO of the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Yewande Sadiku, said that it is necessary to have good government policies and that the government could provide non-financial incentives.

The event was well attended online and had thousands of views.

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On December 17, 2019, the Ministry and NESG signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on how to make sport a business in Nigeria. Since then, NESG has organized events to educate stakeholders and ensure their adherence to the initiative. The end result of the partnership is expected to be the development of a new national sports policy for Nigeria.

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