Gone are the days when we had street tournaments. I’m not even sure if the amateur football league still exists. Grassroots sport development in Africa has experienced a sudden decline over the years. People seem to have lost interest in grassroots sport greatly. Nowadays people prefer to go watch professionals on TV rather than go to a community centre to watch young and raw talents on display. We seem to forget that those professional too were at one time amateurs. They didn’t just wake up to be professionals overnight but grew.
This situation is in existence many African countries today. Many parents are only concerned about their children’s academic performance. Very little attention is being paid to the sporting development of young people today. Talented individuals have to struggle to get noticed because no one is paying attention. Everyone seems to covert that ‘tush’ white collar job. Some people even still erroneously believe that sports men and women are failures.
Although it’s very good for one to seek quality education, it doesn’t mean sports has to be done away with completely. We all know sports have enormous benefits to the body. It could also help reduce unemployment in our societies. It can also generate revenue for the government if it is properly funded and managed. It would also help reduce crime rate in the society. Nowadays, sports men and women are among the most paid people in the world right. For instance, an average football player in the English Premier League earns over 5000 pounds per week which is more than what some executives earn. The point is, sports certainly not for ‘losers’. A career could be made out of it by virtually anyone.
The government has a lot of responsibility in ensuring the sustenance of grass root sport development. Polices should be enacted that’ll support and encourage sport participation, especially among the young. Public schools should be furnished with state-of-the-art sport facilities, regular and competitive sporting tournaments should be held. Talented individuals should be encouraged, not otherwise. Sport should be effectively promoted. Professionals and veterans who’ve made their mark should be lured back home to help in the developmental process.
Grassroots sport development isn’t a responsibility of the government alone, you and I have an important role to play. In your own little way, you should endeavor to support sport development. You might also want to let your kids try out sport. You never know, your kid might just be the next Roger Federer or Michael Jordan or another J.J Okocha. You can also decide to sponsor sports by maybe bying a table tennis board for your community or fitting that school with a basketball net. It might just be buying soccer balls for that local football team in your area. It doesn’t necessarily have to be big time.
If this little is done, in a matter of time Africa will have several greats to boast of that were locally developed. Therefore, let us join hands to take Africa to the next level.
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