Sport Nigeria, a private sector initiative aimed at boosting the development, investment and funding of the sports industry across the country, has made too much of a fuss in Lagos.
dr Representing Minister for Youth and Sport Development Mr Sunday Dare at the launch event, Henry Nzekwu stressed the responsibility of stakeholders such as government, the private sector, sponsors and the international community to take ownership of the opportunities presented by the industrialization of the Sports in Nigeria.
Nkechi Obi, Chief Executive of Sports Nigeria, stressed that the initiative is not about the Olympics or the World Cup, but about the 100 million Nigerians who want to play sports but don’t have adequate access.
Nonetheless, the success of the national football team is vital for Nigerians and the future of Nigerian football will be demonstrated by Taiwo Awoniyi, the 25-year-old striker who has traded Union Berlin for English Premier League club Nottingham in a deal worth £1 Forest switched 18.45 million this summer. Although he has only played four games for the Nigeria national team, his raised profile could make him a fixture of the Super Eagles in one of the top leagues in the world.
Newly promoted Nottingham Forest are expected to face a relegation battle this season, being relegated at Ladbrokes +162.5, while Unibet ranks Forest as a +175 chance of entering the Championship via Openchange.org. But if Awoniyi can keep scoring, the club could achieve their goal of remaining in the lucrative Premier League. He has already made an instant impression, scoring his first goal for the club in the second game of the season against West Ham United.
A World Cup disaster
The initiative came at a pivotal time in the history of the sport in Nigeria after the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. Nigeria made their first appearance at a World Cup in the USA in 1994 and qualified for all tournaments until 2022 except for the tournament in Germany in 2006. Nigeria’s absence in Qatar is not just a disappointment from a sporting point of view, aljazeera. com has reported that it is also an economic hit that has cost Nigerian tour operators big bucks and a missed opportunity to showcase Africa’s most populous country and boost tourism.
The best African nation at the Commonwealth Games
However, Nigerian sport’s strengths were demonstrated at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, where the country finished seventh in the medals standings. Nigeria has amassed a total of 35 medals, including 12 golds, making it the number one African country at the four-yearly athletics tournament. The Nigerian women were particularly impressive, not only winning all of the country’s gold medals, but also dominating a variety of sports, notable for the women’s 4 x 100 meter relay, Ese Brume’s victory in the women’s long jump and Chioma Onyekwere’s triumph in the women’s discus throw women were highlighted. The performances of silver medal winning wrestler Anshu Malik were widely reported by espn.com.
The Sport Nigeria initiative is a bold attempt to turn sport into an industry in the giant of Africa. The potential of the nation’s sporting achievement is highlighted by Nigeria’s performance at the Commonwealth Games. By providing access to the tens of millions of Nigerians who want to take part in sport, the development could provide the impetus for Africa’s most populous country to dominate sport on the continent.