Friday, November 9, 2012

NASCOM: Where we all faced the twilight of hope again

Odegbami...sacked NASCOM head.
Discovered in primary or secondary school?

I have pretended not to see or hear about the NASCOM project. I had to play my professional role as a reporter by reporting the pre- and post events of the dissolution and reconstitution. 
As an individual, it has been a matter I wanted to refuse to make comments on. But with the avalanche of questions I have had to answer physically from those who know and requested my position, from messages on my facebook and a few of my friends on BlackBerry, I was beginning to wonder if I would not mind saying the relative truth i believe on this contentious issue.
You will recall when the NSC bought into the idea of the NASCOM issue at the very beginning, I contended that that was supposed to be a secondary step we are taking without putting in place the foundation which was supposed to be a primary school-based project.
I eventually found out later that certain egg heads had put together the concept and brought in some other human and material structures to support and deliver the project. I did a follow-up report saying that some other people should endeavor to do the primary school bit as a wholistic project. I also recall a caustic response on my blog where someone accused me, like every Nigerian journalists, of being good critics and not being able to do something practical. And also added why can’t I go to start what I was suggesting instead of criticising those who had put some actions together.
Here we are. In a worse junction from where we were coming from. The sports minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, caused the dissolution of the NASCOM board under the leadership of Chief Olusegun Odegbami, himself a product of school sport. 
Yes, like I once argued when some colleagues who took me up on the propriety of the minister’s action. I recall vividly saying that, so long as NASCOM draw monies from the public till, the minister has and reserves some rights to have done what he has done. 
Usain Bolt of Jamaica. Now 22 years.
Was he discovered in secondary school?
Now, the minister has reconstituted the same committee with newer and fresh minds with Terms of Reference (ToR). I have read same. I have asked how these terms will translate to reality of real sports development. the ToR raises the question about the difference between growth and sports development.
What we are doing is like taking up kids who did not start primary school but say because they are advanced in age should just go and start from secondary school because they can by their age easily catch up with what they would have lost if they had started from primary school.
Secondly, like the Team Nigeria and the Nigeria Sports Lottery concepts. Some individuals started the ideas, and invited the National Sports Commission (NSC) into it. Only for the NSC to take it over. Where is the stake of the original designers of the NASCOM project now? They have lost out to a bigger partner who was to use her institutional presence to drive the project. Uhm!
Thirdly, I insist that we are not doing the correct thing with the secondary school project. I, like many of those who competed for this country, were all discovered and nurtured from primary school. Very few got to secondary schools to pick the latent talents we had.
Fourthly, competition is not and should not be the major object of any sports development project. Competition is a function of growth. Training is the ingredient of development. Now, where are the coaches that are supposed to train these kids at any level if at all? How are these coaches to be engaged to train the kids? In which sports are we looking at? Where will the equipment come from? It is only after these issues are settled can competition as part of the exposure for their growth become paramount.
Right inside the minister’s office is Saleh Alhassan Yakmut. He was Nigeria’s volleyball captain for years. He was a product of primary school sports initiative. He matured in the secondary school from where he worked up on the progression chart to play for Nigeria. This is a repeat of our own stories. Name the athletes from the 1980s to date. It was the era of Patrick Ekeji’s generation that actually started from secondary schools. In both instances, coaches from the state sports councils go to the schools to impart the correct rudiments of training.
I proceed on break. Catch you all later. 

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