In the realm of sports, where dreams are nurtured and champions are forged, a persistent obstacle stifles potential and dims the aspirations of countless enthusiasts—the unavailability of adequate sports infrastructure. This problem stands as one of the major banes of sports development in Nigeria.
Across communities and states in the federation, the absence or inadequacy of proper sports facilities stands as a formidable barrier, limiting access, stunting talent growth, and impeding the pursuit of athletic excellence.
The scarcity of proper infrastructure denies aspiring athletes the opportunity to train, compete, and excel, hampering their ability to reach their full potential. At its core, this issue is a disheartening reality for millions of Nigerians, especially in areas where dilapidated fields, outdated facilities, and a lack of resources converge to create a stark contrast to the vibrant and dynamic sporting environments seen elsewhere.
One endemic issue in Nigerian sports is the quagmire of well-maintained arenas (the lack of it), tracks, courts, and training centers. This problem does not only curtail the development of skilled athletes but also deprives communities of the myriad benefits associated with a thriving sports culture.
These days, it looks like the narratives might be changing. In the 100 days that John Owan Enoh has been on the saddle as the supremo of the Ministry of Sports Development, he has unrelentlessly dug into viable avenues to improve the sports infrastructure of Nigeria.
As a matter of fact, Senator Enoh’s first action as minister was an inspection tour of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja. 24 hours after resuming office, he embarked on the inspection to assess the state of facilities.
During a briefing with sports journalists that bright afternoon, he postulated that the Ministry will be as systematic as possible, with the process of driving infrastructural growth. On that inspection tour, the Minister went round the gigantic dual-packaged edifice, assessing the Mainbowl, Facility Building, Power Technical House, etc.
One of the impressive part of the new minister’s approach is the vision to make major sports facilities self-sustaining, ensuring facilities generate revenue that is more than enough for their maintenance. He had shared his vision to remodel the abandoned hostel at the Abuja National Stadium into a standard hotel accommodation that will house national teams during their assignments and also standard enough to be rented out to external individuals before national teams’ window comes full cycle.
Senator Enoh’s first trip as a minister was to Lagos, for another inspection tour. He was in Lagos on an inspection tour to the National Stadium, Surulere. In one day, he visited the mainbowl of the National stadium, National Institute of Sports (NIS), Sports Medical Center, Indoor Sports Hall, and other facilities.
He also visited the Games Village hostels, and courts of others sports. From his words and poise, one could tell that the Cross Riverian came to the office to work. His passion is contagious, his enthusiasm is infectious and his hard work is admirable.
During his time in Lagos, he spoke about the process towards the concessioning of the National Stadium, Surulere. He mentioned that he will 100% back any method it takes to bring back the glory of what was once the football palace of Africa. Enoh has been seen wooing private investors, while fostering greater relationship with investors such as Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Chief Adebutu Kessington. These two individuals have strongly supported infrastructure development in Nigeria.
By prioritizing the development and maintenance of sports infrastructure, Senator Enoh is sowing the seeds for a more vibrant, equitable, and thriving future. It’s time to convert this lamentable bane into a catalyst for change—an opportunity to build a nation where every aspiring athlete, regardless of background, can pursue their dreams and contribute to a brighter sporting landscape for generations to come. While the journey is still far, Senator John Enoh is definitely on the right track.