A huge number of people across Nigeria love watching sports, and it is particularly great to be able to see stars from our country compete at the highest level in major competitions like the English Premier League.
Many of us enjoy the buzz of taking part in sports too, but there have been renewed calls for the country’s relationship with the pastime to extend beyond mere enjoyment.
In fact, sports development could benefit Nigeria in manifold ways. Let’s take a closer look.
Towards the end of May, former Super Eagles coach Festus Onigbinde spoke out on his concerns regarding how sport is viewed in Nigeria.
According to Goal.com, the Sports Minister told Sahara Reporters that development was the “greatest challenge” faced by the activity, with many people simply participating “for the fun of it”.
He went on to equate the ensuing issue to the world of business, stating that a lack of development within a company would eventually lead to it folding. He then added: “That is the situation with Nigerian sports.”
These comments have shone a spotlight on an issue which has been the topic of plenty of discussion in recent times, with Guardian.ng investigating the matter towards the end of last year.
The news site outlined how the Nigerian government is looking to change its approach, with sports minister Sunday Dare discussing his desire to create a public-private partnership model and a private sector-related fund to drive support and investment in the area of sports.
Whether these moves will be successful remains to be seen, but what benefits would the country get from building up its sports offering?
Dare told Guardian.ng that taking this step could create wealth and jobs, while a new framework could highlight business opportunities and encourage commercialisation in a wider sense.
Furthermore, once organisations and businesses are operating and thriving in the space, taxation may also become a possibility – although it will be vital that the right systems are in place to support that.
Such issues have also been highlighted by the rise of sports betting in the country, with this Nigeria betting guide detailing how there are some concerns the government may be missing out on tax revenues due to public confusion regarding regulations.
The site adds that if the area can be effectively taxed, our country could benefit from a major new source of income – and the same extends to the wider world of sports.
“They used to rub their hands in resin & put shards of glass in to fight.”
Dambe is the ancient Nigerian combat sport which has found an audience of millions on YouTube. It looks brutal, but organisers insist the sport is much less violent now…👀👊🏾#BBCSportAfrica l #Dambe pic.twitter.com/ieFkyRDmXQ
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) December 4, 2019
But which sports may be particularly ripe for investment and development within Nigeria?
Football may well be an obvious option, but a more traditional sport, which is currently gaining a global profile, could fit the bill too.
Back in April, the BBC reported on how the Nigerian combat sport of ‘Dambe’ has enjoyed a surge in interest on YouTube, with views being generated in countries as far from home as Indonesia and the US.
An international event based on the sport has also been mooted. This is an enticing opportunity, as we are almost unique in the world in offering this Hausa martial arts staple.
When all of that is considered, it is clear there could be huge potential benefits for Nigeria to establish the right structures for sporting development.
The activity should always be fun, but making the most of the country’s love of sports could undoubtedly have a transformative effect.