Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Sports and National development BY KENNETH JUDE

Few will deny the truism that sports, religion and music are the driving forces of the world today. It is an incontrovertible fact that the world will be devoid of verve and fun if sport is done away with or is relegated to the back ground in the scheme of things. 

Some folks of course, may counter the above assertion. But one cannot but wonders how those in this class of reasoning will substantiate their position because for yours truly sports and games remains a remarkable tool in every society that obviously cannot be treated with kid gloves. 

Rewinding back to those years when we kicked about objects like oranges with so much delight and satisfaction, our hearts rang with joy when we gathered to kick oranges around our neigbouhood among ourselves. And also referring to a time where there used to be sports games between one street against the other, clan versus clans, family competitions and all that. 

 Those competitions served a whole lot of purpose for those who partook of it or followed it religiously. It helped to bridge the gap of ethnicity, stimulate the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity. We got to know ourselves through these games while also broadening our horizon in other areas of life. In engaging in such games then, little did we know that we were building strong bonds and developing one another both mentally and physically. We had unpityingly created an environment for all to habitat and mix without let or hindrance. 

Enter religion. It is widely believed that religion is the opium of the masses in our time, religions of different shades and colour have spring up and where one turns. Yours truly lays no claim to pastoral calling or flashes as some naughty folks would sarcastically profess; no, i belong to a different order in calling but staunchly squats under the canopy of Christianity, doing my bits, taking the next step and leaving the rest to God. We are said to be the most religious people in the world of course, this position cannot be overly ignored going by the way and manner churches are planted these days in Nigeria. But the stalk contrast is that our conduct within the precincts of the church and outside runs opposite. We rain abuses on one another and employ all manner of invectives to cast aspersions on our supposed brothers and sisters at the slightest provocations. We holler in deep voices that it is in giving that we are worthy to receive, yet when an opportunity to display such biblical gesture presents itself, we look the other way or better still, malign the integrity of the have not. But we can only grow and make necessary adjustment in order to reflect what we profess with so much applause. 

Now let us talk music. The place of music in our world today is so distinct that it is gradually making more funds that some other sectors of the economy of a nation, hence, for a country like Nigeria in dire straits as far as development is concern, it is utmost important that government leverage on the ideals of sports to drive the vehicle of development especially as we make concerted efforts to be one of the leading economies of the world by 2020 is not in doubt. 

The tentacles of sports are so wide that it also provides an avenue to promote and project our tourism potentials. South Africa has become a tourism destination of sorts today since the world converged in 2010 during the world cup that was hosted in that country. They are still reaping the fruits and benefits of such. Today, they have become a choice destination for shopping, recreation and relaxation. This, of course, has in turn brought about the much needed fillip to their economy while also playing host to great men and women from all divides to herself. As the proverbial giant of Africa, Nigeria can also tap into the vast reaches of sports and use it to galvanize and extricate our teeming unemployed youths from the clutches of lack and squalor. 

The time can be no longer than now especially as we watched in utter shock thousands of Nigerians who went for the recent immigration service recruitment exercise. Needless to serve us with the gory details that attended that farce of a test.  Let Nigeria use sports as a stimulant to free the nation from this quagmire and boost our developmental drive with the sole aim of creating jobs and sustenance for all in-roads to every sphere of life. The role of music cannot be over stressed in our society. There’s hardly any celebration that hold without the soothing balm and sonorous ambience that music creates. I digress. 

Back to the subject matters in 2003, the un international agency task force on sport for development and peace defined sport, for the purposes of development as “all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental wellbeing and social interaction, such as play, resinous sports and games.

This definition has since been accepted by many proponents of sport for development and peace. Sports is a far reaching adventure and a strong tool for humanitarian, empowerment and national integration. It is a tool of mobilisation, inclusion and participation. It is also used as an outreach platform that have seen messages like HIV/AIDs, child’s rights, the environment, brotherliness’ and education disseminated to the target audience. Sports is also a powerful instrument to manage social ties and networks, and to promote ideals of peace, fraternity, solidarity, non-violence tolerance and justice. 

In as much as sports also have its negative sides as hooliganism, violence, corruption falsifiations of age, doping, fraud and the like. But yet, the positive side and win-win nature of sport far out weights it negativities.

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