The Presidency has rolled out an initiative aimed at revolutionalising grass roots sports in Nigeria.
President Goodluck Jonathan disclosed this at the National Stadium in Abuja on Thursday at the launching of the national mobilization campaign for grassroots sports tagged ‘Rhythm N’ Play.’
According to him, the initiative will provide young Nigerians under the age of 17 years with structured programmes that combine sports and play as a critical tool for child development.
The initiative, which is the biggest ever launched, will introduce two million additional children to sports over the next two years, among its short time goals.
“The aim is to nurture athletes for the country for international competitions and through this effort, we intend to bring physical education back to our schools,” President Jonathan said.
“The programme that we are launching today will provide young Nigerians under the age of 17 with structured programmes that combines sports and play as a critical learning and development tools.
“In this regard, we have directed the National Sports Commission and Federal Ministry of Education to work toward achieving this target,” Jonathan added.
He also applauded the nation’s effort towards ensuring success in sporting activities, but opined that measures has to be put in place for the sustainability of the successes recorded so far.
“So far we have done well in our efforts to fly the country’s colours at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil going by the results so far, we are very hopeful.
“We must build on this momentum and trend; we must take every step to ensure that our successes are sustained.
“We believe that grassroots sports development and nurturing will provide the way for our country,” he said.
Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi said the ministry would collaborate with government in the 36 states and the FCT to leverage on existing competitions and improve Nigeria’s future global champions. The Minister gave assurance that NSC would train game masters for the programme and deliver sporting equipment directly to schools across the nation.
Nigeria Academic Sports Committee Chairman Yemi Idowu sought the support of the private sector for the programme.
The ‘Rhythm N’ Play’ is a youth-friendly campaign aimed at enhancing mass youth participation in sporting activities and age grade competitions. It heavily relies on the use of music, dance and celebrities to mobilize children to participate in sports for grass roots development.