Towards developing grassroots sports in the country, the minister of youth and sports development, Sunday Dare, said that the ministry is ready to launch the Talent Hunt Program (THP) in February 2020.
The sports minister disclosed this at the Imo State Sports Summit organised by the Governor Emeka Ihedioha in Owerri, Imo State yesterday.
Dare noted that, through the program, the talents found will undergo a special training and mentoring program of one month before they are inserted into the sports federations.
“The ministry has conceived of the Talent Hunt Program, THP, which will be launched in February. The sole objective is to empower a crack team of sports coaches and technical experts to move around the country and hunt for talents in about 12 sports’’ he said.
‘’The ministry will closely monitor their growth and development, the ministry in September organized the National Youth Games (NYG) for ages 6-15 in Ilorin. Over 320 young talents were discovered. The ministry would continue to organize the annual NYG to create a pool of talents that are ready to challenge the elite athletes at international competitions. The National Sports Festival is also a grade-A sports festival organized by the ministry where talents are discovered”.
He mentioned that the Principal Cup competitions which produced household names like, Henry Nwosu, Adokiye Amiesimaka, Franklin Howard, Stephen Keshi and a host of others will be resuscitated but would not be restricted to football.
“In the pilot scheme, we are currently looking at the about 4 to 5 sports (Athletics, Table Tennis, Badminton, Football and perhaps Wrestling). To achieve this, we shall be partnering with the federal ministry of Education and other relevant stakeholders. The ministry will also commence for the first time what we call the Headmasters Cup for Primary schools to boost the catchment’’.
‘’ About 10,000 primary schools across the country will compete for trophies in 3-5 different sports. We will be depending largely on the active collaboration of States and local governments”, he added.
Dare further solicited for other stakeholders including the organized private sector to support sports development as government funding alone is insufficient to drive sports development. .
“Our sports development goals cannot be sustained with government funding alone, every other stakeholder, including the organized private sector, must play its part in these efforts. Nigeria will soon get a robust and dynamic National Sports Policy in line with modern and international beet practices’’.
We can no longer treat sports as mere recreation when across the world a sport is treated as a business. It is now 1.3 trillion dollars globally.”