Former national tennis star, Godwin Kienka, believes his new book, Sports In Nigeria, Going Round In Circles, will address problems hampering the country’s growth in the sector.
For years, the country has been searching for solutions to the underdevelopment of the sports sector, with successive administrations setting up committees to find answers to the numerous problems hindering the country’s growth in sports.
In 2016, then Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, named Kienka as chairman of a ministerial reform committee to “restructure and reposition Nigeria’s sports from a service-oriented model to a private sector developmental-oriented one.” Although the Kienka committee completed its work and submitted its findings, it was, like many others before it, not followed through to effect the changes expected to drive Nigeria’s sports development.
Speaking while unveiling Sports In Nigeria, Going Round In Circles, in Lagos, Kienka, who disclosed that the book’s launch would be accompanied by an endowment fund to reward athletes for outstanding performance, said the work has solutions to the various ailments affecting the sports sector.
“As a reporter with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), I had the opportunity to attend international events, not just in tennis, but also in athletics, basketball and other sports. As I went on to cover grand slams, I saw the effort parents, countries and companies were putting into producing young stars, not just for the fame or for the glory of the country, but for changing lives and the financial opportunity that is available in sports for these children.
“Parents sold houses and moved locations just so their children will have opportunities available in sports. I saw these enormous opportunities and I realised that it is only in sports that you don’t need a godfather to become successful.
“If you can do nine seconds in 100 metres, you don’t need anybody to make you a superstar. But we need to create an environment for the athletes to maximize their talents. That is what we do not have at the moment.”
He said the book addresses all the problems that bedevil sports in Nigeria and points out why Nigeria’s talents don’t go from potential to world champions.
Kienka added: “In this book, we looked at 10 reasons we are not doing well in sports and we, sports journalists, are the seventh problem discussed in the book. This means that we contribute 30 per cent to the sports development problem of Nigeria.”
He revealed that the book will be launched in Abuja on May 13, with stakeholders in Nigeria’s sports sector, including Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, in attendance.
On the proposed Sports Performance Reward Fund, Kienka said the project will reward each Olympic Games gold medallist with N10 million, silver medallist would get N7.5 million, while N5 million will go to bronze medallists.
“For the Commonwealth Games, gold medallists will get N5 million for gold, N3 million will go to silver medallists, while those who win bronze will earn N1.5 million.
“For the Africa Games, the gold medallist will get N3 million, N2 million will go for silver and N1 million will be the reward for a bronze medal. These, we hope, will attract our youth enormously to sports and bring the private sector involvement in the sector.”