Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has declared that he could not score himself six months after assuming office, even as he remains focused on re-inventing the wheels in spite of the challenges.
Speaking on his stewardship in the last six months in office,Dare said: “It would be totally wrong to score myself. You can’t score yourself in an examination. The scorecard should be done by relevant stakeholders who have been monitoring what we have done since assuming office.
“But by and large, we have tried to reinvent the wheel of Youth and Sports Development, and restore confidence in the sector. We have changed the wrong perception about the Youth and Sports Development Ministry and engaged with critical stakeholders, the athletes and those that are genuinely interested in supporting us to actualize our vision. We have succeeded in convincing the athletes who are at the core of winning honours that we mean well and their welfare remains our central focus. We have refocused sports development by dwelling on the core issues that matter.”
The Minister maintains that athletes and their welfare remain his top priority: “Without the athletes winning laurels, sports will be meaningless. So we have focused on infrastructural development, the discovery, and development of athletes and their welfare. We have also insisted on doing things right to change the ecosystem in Youth and Sports and the most negative perceptions that we inherited have changed. We met a lot of challenges, but when we look back in a year or two we believe a lot would have changed for good.”
On the biggest challenge since assuming office, he said: “The Youth and Sports Development sector is not insulated from the challenges that characterise other ministries and sectors of the society. We inherited a lot of challenges like projects that were started and abandoned, those that were completed but made to rot away, youth unemployment and a sector that was completely neglected. We had to devise strategic options for tackling the problems.
“We came up with the Adopt-an -Athlete Initiative and Adopt-a-Stadium. We went into partnership with committed individuals, corporate bodies, state governments, and agencies to support our athletes and address the infrastructural problems. These are problems that had always been there and we had to take proactive steps to tackle them. This strategic move has achieved a lot with states like Edo, Delta, Lagos, Anambra adopting athletes.
“Unlike in the past, money meant for athletes are paid directly into their accounts without anyone taking anything. This is to enable the athletes train well for the Olympics before it was postponed. Good enough, we are constantly monitoring the athletes to know how they are faring.
“With the lockdown and postponement of all sporting events, we are keeping tabs on the athletes to ensure that they use the money well and also use private indoor facilities to keep in shape.”
Speaking on infrastructure, the Minister said stadiums like the MKO Abiola Stadium, National Stadiums in Lagos and Ibadan are being given a face lift by individuals, just as the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna has been given a new look courtesy of the Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasiru El Rufai.