——-How the Nigerian government abandoned one of the most lucrative youth industry over the years.
“Schools are really, really important. It gives you access to every kid in the country. It gives you a massive pool of people to see who might be talented at different sports. It allows kids to try sports. Kids can be inspired all they want, but if they can’t go out and try a sport, then it’s no good”.—— Alistair Brownlee
The recent comments from the Nigerian sports minister stating that the sports ministry didn’t pay the footballers because the Sports Ministry, and Nigerian Football Federation didn’t expect Falcon to win the just concluded Woman’s African Cup of Nations held in Cameroon…..while Nigerian’s may be angry with the minister, his words only confirms how the Nigerian government over the years have abandoned the sports industry and refused to tap into one of the nation’s greatest assets…..the youths!
The once lucrative industry which put Nigeria on the front pages of international newspapers has become a shadow of itself….. the truth is nobody expects anything tangible from what he or she has not invested in?……that was exactly the message the Minister was passing across…they didn’t invest in training the Falcons hence they did not expect good performance.
Nigerians love sports and the potentials of the industry is huge, yet government has not been able to map out a successful plan to exploit the industry’s capacity to generate revenue, in fact government does not see it as a revenue generating venture, hence government’s inability to encourage and tap into the huge industry that is wasting away which is composed of some the most athletic population in the world.
The minister’s words echoed governments attitude over the years towards the sports ministry and how the government perceives sports as a whole…..the huge untapped potentials from secondary schools, universities, states, and the federal level……..the potentials are seen as a burden on the government rather than investments. Nigeria is a country that has stopped investing in its youths….both in education and sports, yet these sectors yield a high Return on Investments for other countries.
Nigeria has about a 100 million people between the age of 7 and 30 years old….this is the active sport age bracket, but interestingly this also the educative age……it is assumed that at 24 years, a person should have finished his or her first degree. Government’s negligence in investing in the educational sector and its infrastructure where most of the athletes are discovered has also affected the school’s abilities to sustain and maintain sport facilities and capacity of secondary schools and universities……you only need to look at the private secondary schools and see how many can boast of the expanse of land that the public schools have which was the backbone of various sports in the past, yet the secondary schools are where kids pick up such sports, are discovered, and decide to either pursue it as a professional career or for leisure.
Diversifying the Economy Through Sports and its Economic Impact!…..
According to A.T Kearney, the worldwide consulting company, the global sports industry is worth about USD$620 billion……from infrastructure construction to sporting goods, licenced products and live sports events…….in fact the global sports industry is growing at a faster rate than GDP rates around the world….the size, makeup and revenue is a significant growth prospect for the future and cannot be ignored.
The North America sport market as at 2014 was worth USD$60.5 billion and it is expected to reach USD$73.5 billion by 2019 with media right deal projected to surpass revenue from gates fees. This is a significant and huge contribution to the nation’s economy creating over 500,000 jobs in the United States with an average salary of USD$39,000….the Football (NFL), Basketball (MBA), Baseball (MBL), and Hockey (NHL) are the biggest contributing more than USD$23 billion annually.
In the United Kingdom, with the constant growth of the industry, it now ranks among the top 15 mainstream activities in the economy supporting over 450,000 jobs and contributing over BPD20.3 billion to the economy annually. ……benefiting from sports tourism, and the hosting of tournaments which also injects cash into the economy….the Rugby 2015 World Cup attracted 466,000 to the UK with BPD869 million direct expenditure on travel and accommodation alone.
The Premier League and the involved clubs generates more than BPD6.2 billion in economic output, BPD3.4 billion of that amount was contributed to the overall UK GDP in 2013/2014 alone, the Premier League and its club employs 6,239 people, and 65,623 jobs in the Premier League and the Premier League Club’s supply chain, and 103,000 full time employee jobs supported in the UK. The UK government generates around BPD2.4 billion from tax receipts through the leagues and the full time employees of the sports industry supply chain. Even the global sports betting industry….both legal and illegal markets generates between USD$700 billion to USD$1 trillion annually…..it is a huge industry.
With a population of 180 million and 100 million of the population falling within the age brackets of 7 to 30 years, 7 years being the age when kids starts to do gymnastics and swimming, the economy has a huge population to pick out the best candidates for various sports……in fact Nigeria has more than it needs to find the best sport men and women to compete in the global arena. But the government has refused to tap the potentials of the industry because the government does not understand the economic impact and benefits of the sports industry and how it can be used to diversify the economy.
In fact countries like China have started a road map to creating a sports industry that will be worth USD$800 billion, accounting for 1% of its GDP by 2025….the industry currently accounts for only 0.6% of its GDP as at January 2015.
One of the major advantages of running a striving sports industry is the fact that athletes are discovered on regular basis and are ever ready for international games….this was the advantage Nigeria had in the past which won the country medals in the Olympics and other international events…..today athletes train themselves to even compete for the country and those that are fortunate enough switch nationalities to carry the flag of other countries that are ready to invest in them.
Psychological Impact of Sports to a Nations Stability!……….
Sports has been one of the major unifying factors in Nigeria……strategically the government should utilize such opportunities to create stability and keep the youths busy at the same time profiting from its economic benefits. From the grassroots level in Nigeria……sports creates opportunities in the society allowing people to come together in achieving a common goal…..at this level…..religion, ethnicity and other dividing factors are put aside and this promotes peace building in the society.
Countries like South Africa have been known to use sports as a means of promoting peace and reducing racial divide……..world organizations like the United Nations through their program….Sports for Peace and Development…. have been known to promote peace through the use of sports using it as an instrument that cuts across boundaries…..ignoring geographical borders and classes and at the same time bridging social integration and building economic development, example is the United Nations Program in El Salvador.
With the social unrest in Nigeria…..the government can promote peace and unity using sports and at the same time reaping the economic advantage of diversification.
Creating a Positive Image for Nigeria through Sports………….
“Global sports tournaments have a range of benefits that go far beyond the games themselves. They can transform the image of a country or a region. They bring people together and reveal new possibilities to a nation’s youth”.——Richard Attias
There are restless athletic youths in Nigeria…..the energies can be directed towards sports…. creating an industry that will export and import talents across all categories. The more international sports Nigeria participates in the more the country remains in the international headlines and the more positive image it projects for the country.
Countries like Jamaica and Brazil have built a positive image for themselves through track and field, and football…..these sports are the national identities of both countries, Bulgarians are known to be heavy weight lifters, Kenyans and Ethiopians are long distance runners, India is known for cricket, Canada’s national and international pride is ice hockey, and The United States is known for Basketball.
Conclusion and Recommendations!…..
“231 Colleges in the United States generated USD$9.2 billion in revenue from sports in 2014-15”——-NCAA
The President, the Minister and the entire nation should know that our youths are wasting away…..not only has Nigeria refused to develop a 100 million population industry, the country has refused to tap the potentials by creating a positive image for the country through the capacity of individuals from sports and also the fact that sports can keep the youth busy by using it to create stability for the country while government uses it to diversify the economy and generate revenue.
Federal and State Governments should privatize and sell off the Stadiums……the UK stadiums have utilization capacity of 95.9% with average attendance of 36,691. Not surprisingly too, in the US games such as the NFL averages 68,216 in attendance, MLB 30,163, MLS 21,692, NMA 17,849, NHL 17,548. Nigeria’s stadiums record less than 1% capacity utilization…..privatizing it will help drive business ideas in sports to generate revenue. They will include naming right for stadiums, TV and internet broadcasting, promotions, ticketing, memorabilia, sales of jerseys, endorsements, etc.
Federal and State governments should privatize sports of secondary schools and universities to companies who will buy the rights in collaborations with the schools and organize seasonal competitions amongst these schools which will include all sporting activities. High school sports in the United States generate billions of dollars annually…..in 2014-15, the NCAA reported that 231 colleges alone, not inclusive of high schools in the United States generated USD$9.2 billion in revenue.
Most of the secondary schools are no longer able to host the yearly inter-house sports which used to be the sensation every student looked forward to in the 70’s and 80’s……with the dwindling education budget most public schools can’t afford to host the event any longer, yet it was from those events that Nigeria discovered some of its best athletes…..the Principal and SMC cup played in the 80’s discovered majority of the U-17 team that won the 1985 and 1989 world cups….efforts should be concentrated on the public schools as these kids see sports as an escape root out of poverty. The version of the inter-house sports, Principal and SMC cup are what people pay to watch in the United States and they generate billions of dollars annually…..with proper organization, planning, and promotions, they can be achieved….but it has to be in private hands and run as a full business activity.
It will benefit the country at large if the Nigerian government can adopt this measures, the government would have been able to keep the youths busy, create a viable and profitable sports industry that will benefit both the private sector and schools, have ever ready athletes to represent the country in international tournaments and at the same time generating revenue for the government …..Nigerian Sports facilities and agile athletic youths are wasting away!