FG, Stakeholders Brainstorm on Developing Round Leather Game
In its avowed determination to ensure the development of sports in the country, the Federal Government has met with key stakeholders in the industry, to brainstorm on the way forward for the development of the round leather game.
During the meeting which held at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja, today, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh stated that the engagement
with the Leadership of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Nigeria Premier Football League ( NPFL), Club Owners’ Association, as well as the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA) was imperative as there was urgent need to take intentional and strategic actions, especially on the operations of clubs and match officials so as to ensure the development and growth of the round leather game in the country to an appreciable level of professional admiration.
He stated further that government has been working assidously with the key stakeholders in the industry with a view to ensuring the development of football in the country through the introduction of viable initiatives, policies and programmes.
The Minister who expressed dismay on the omission of Nigerian referees from participation in the AFCON 2023 competition, called on the leadership of the bodies to ensure they synergize, look inward and reorganize the state of football for the benefit of the nation.
He noted that football in Nigeria cannot be said to be developing if our referees are excluded from international tournaments year in, year out; stressing that the Ministry is concerned about this *we are concerned because this does not spell well for the reputation of our nation*, he said.
Senator Owan Enoh explained that the bitter experience from CAF, which is the exclusion of Nigerian officials for AFCON, should be treated as a lesson to improve the conduct and operations of the management of our round leather game to ensure the development of our league. *We are in this sorry state because of what had happened in the past, but it is incumbent on us to take action points from our deliberations and define the future of our game. We must put our house in order internally before we focus on the external determinants of our reputation.* he said.
While reminding them of their key role as critical stakeholders in the development of football in the country, the Minister assured that the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Administration was determined to move sports away from mere recreation to the level of job creation so as to alleviate poverty and also ensure inclusiveness of women in sports with a view to contributing meaningully to the promotion of unity and safety in the country.
Senator Owan Enoh informed that clubs have a responsibility to scale up their operation to a professional level, where the welfare and insurance of players, club licensing compliance, security, infrastructure, contract matters and others are treated in accordance with international best practices.
Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary overseeing the Federal Ministries of Sports and Youth Development, Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar stated that the meeting was conveyed as a follow-up to the Minister’s earlier engagement with the stakeholders to further provide the wider opportunity to brainstorm on issues surrounding the development of the round leather game in the country.
He called on the leadership of all the bodies to put the interest of the nation above their personal interests and ensure they provide the meeting with relevant contributions that will help in driving the development of football in line with the policy thrust of the present administration.
Alhaji Ismaila assured that the Ministry will continue to provide the necessary administrative support to ensure the development of all sports in Nigeria for the benefit of our teeming youth as well as for the socio-economic growth of the nation.
Also speaking, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau stated that the Federation has taken some initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency of the country’s referees as it has brought in younger generation to take up officiating roles.
The President stated further that NFF has the vision to ensure that those who will earn FIFA refereeing badge in the country henceforth should be relevant on the international stage for a long time.