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November, 10 2021.

The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) has appealed to the National Assembly to strongly consider the issues raised by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, at the defence of the 2022 budget and work closely with the ministry to achieve the articulated targets for sports development in Nigeria.

SWAN President, Honour Sirawoomade the statement in reaction to the Minister's budget defence at the National Assembly, pointing out that he was very honest and on point in his propositions.

Sunday Dare was very honest in his presentation. Through the years, we have seen that the budget for sports has been too insufficient to truly drive development of the sector.

"We have often heard athletes complain about lack of funding to properly prepare and attend international events. There have also been issues with payment of entitlements. The bottom line is that the ministry doesn't get the budget to meet various critical needs. There are over 40 sports disciplines for which the ministry is challenged to provide facilities, equipment, train and pay coaches, fund teams to attend international events.

"We cannot continue this way. Sports is a critical social sector and we must invest sufficiently in it if we are to realise it's full benefits in employment, enterprise and attraction of private and foreign direct investments.

"Perhaps, the real solution will lie on the establishment of a National Sports Trust Fund that delivers sports from red tapes. This would be a function of well organised public and private sector collaboration. But before then, government has to provide a lot more.

"The Minister also spoke on repositioning our local leagues. We have allowed the foreign leagues to take over our fans as well as our brands and corporate sponsors. It is not just a failing of sports federations and ministry alone. While there should be a re-engineering of structures and administration, we also need to grow the participatory capacity of complementary sectors like broadcasting, incentivisation brands and the corporate community.

"We are encouraged that the Minister is advocating a critical shift in approach to funding and organisation and all hands, from the executives to legislature to the corporate community, need to be on deck together towards achieving the desired end. We can make sports a major contributor to our economy but we have to invest more to set it up more effectively."

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