Ex-international Victor Ikpeba has urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts in developing sports at the grassroots and providing infrastructure in order to produce more football stars in the country.
Ikpeba told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that governments at all levels needed to give sports development at the grassroots the desired attention in order to enhance national development.
“For genuine nation-building and national integration, sports development and promotion at the grassroots must be given serious attention.
“The Nigerian population is dominated by the youths who are sports lovers, hence the need to capture and shape their patriotic zeal through sport,” he said.
The former wing forward added that sports was the only instrument through which nationalism and patriotism could be preached and imbibed.
“Sports has been identified as a platform through which crime could be curbed as the youths would be gainfully engaged in that venture.
“I don’t want to sound too ‘political’, but I know that there are challenges. But I am positive we can overcome these challenges by giving the youths a sense of belonging through sports.
“So, I implore the Federal Government to come up with implementable policies that will enhance sports development in our dear country.
“When this is accomplished, the nation will witness rapid socio-economic growth,” he said.
The former African Footballer of the Year also praised the organisers of a grassroots talent-hunt known as “Next Naija Football Super Star”.
The grassroots programme is a reality TV show aimed at creating a viable platform for raw untapped talents in Nigeria and beyond.
Ikpeba said it was worthy of note that even with all the current challenges in the country, people still found time to come out and inspire the youths.
“I am indeed so delighted to be part of this great project and I have had to risk my life to be here in Abuja.
“It’s shocking what is happening around the country and we pray and hope that the government can quickly fix these problems.
“That’s why this is also an avenue to inspire our youths and I give kudos to the organisers for putting this together,” he said.(NAN)