The National Vice President of Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria (YSFON), Mr. Kali Gwegwe has assured stakeholders that contrary to insinuations by some stakeholders, Governor Douye Diri has not abandoned the grassroots sports sector.
Mr. Gwegwe said this while responding to an address by members of the Grassroots Sports Stakeholders Forum, who paid him a coutesy visit in Yenagoa.
Earlier, the spokesman of the stakeholders, Coach Richard Atama had said grassroots sports development, which is usually championed by private and well-meaning individuals, is being treated with disdain by government officials.
Coach Atama said, government cannot afford to do without private sector involvement in sports development.
According to him, grassroots sports organisations are the first line of contact with athletes in the rural areas; pointing out that no athlete has ever fallen from the moon.
He noted that their contributions are never recognised and appreciated as soon as the athletes they identify in the villages, excel and subsequently spotted by officials of the sports council or ministry of sports.
Coach Atama, who was visibly angry, informed the National Vice President of Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria that but for his intervention, they had planned to embark on a peaceful demonstration to Government House.
According to Atama:
“It is highly regrettable that grassroots sports organisations are not given their due recognition. As the first point of contact with raw talents in the villages, the grassroots sports organisers identify the budding talents, groom them but when they excel in competions, the sports officials in Yenagoa, who polish and fine-them take all the glory while the coach who discovered the budding talent is relegated to the background.“Athletes don’t drop from the moon. Somebody discovered them in their raw state and it is only proper that such persons who identified such sporting talents should be given a mention.“The situation is so bad that we had planned to proceed on a peaceful demonstration to Government House to draw attention to our plight but for your timely intervention”.
He argued that sports development goes beyond Bayelsa United, Bayelsa Queens, or the National Sports Festival. He recalled how the state handball team was treated shabilly but went on to win a national competition in Lagos, boosting the image of the state.
In his response, Mr. Gwegwe, who himself is an advocate of grassroots sports development, acknowledged that it hasn’t been easy with the grassroots sports sector in the last one year.
He told the stakeholders that he had worked with the governor when he was commissioner of sports and assured them that the sector will receive a boost soon in terms of programme sponsorship.
He therefore appealed to them to continue playing their part in developing sports, assuring them that as a sports-loving governor, Senator Douye Diri will make the necessary directives on grassroots sports development soon.