From Abel Leonard, Lafia
Nasarawa State commissioner for Youth and Sports Development Hon.Jafaru Ango,has lofty ideas of reviving sports in the state.
The newly appointed Commissioner in this interview with Saturday Sun Sports said
his priorities for the first 100 days in office,includes excelling at the National Youth Games, renovating sports facilities, and revitalizing the Nasarawa United football team.
Ango also hinted on plans for youth empowerment and grassroots sports engagement, emphasizing a local approach with global aspirations.
He however, shares his vision for the long-term development of sports and youth initiatives in Nasarawa State, aiming for positive transformation through collaboration with stakeholders.
Q. Congratulations on your recent appointment as the Commissioner of Youth and Sports Development for Nasarawa State, Honorable Jafaru Ango. Can you tell us about your top priorities and what you intend to achieve in your first 100 days in office?
ANS: Well, I do know there are a lot of things on ground to be achieved, but for the first one hundred days in office, I should be concentrating on the short term goals, and this include, but not limited to:
(i). Ensuring Team Nasarawa athletes do well and surpass their previous records at the National Youth Games set to hold in Asaba, Delta State, from 21st September to 1st October, 2023.
We have participated in the previous editions, but without commensurate results. This time around, we are not only going to participate, but participate to win laurels and write our names in gold in the sports we will be featuring in.
We are going to the National Youth Games featuring in three Team Sports Events, namely, Basketball Hockey and Volleyball, and this is the first time, ever, that we will be featuring three team sports events at the Youth Games since it began in 2013.
We also will be featuring in other individual games at the Event.
(ii)Equally, too, there are some ongoing renovation works on some facilities under the Ministry, like the Sports Academy in Akwanga, Youth Centres in Akwanga and Nasarawa Local Government Areas, Hockey pitch, Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis and Handball Courts at the Lafia City Stadium respectively. We will ensure they are completed and ready for use before my first one hundred days in office.
Q: Can you elaborate on the specific plans you have for Nasarawa United to help them regain their position in the elite league?
ANS: It is important to note that no one is happy that the team went on relegation from the top-flight Nigeria Premier Football League.
“The last time such happened was about 14 years ago. Even though it is not a new thing for a team to go on relegation, but we feel we have done enough to stabilize in the elite domestic football league in Nigeria.
“However, we are doing everything humanly possible to get the team back on track.We have begun preparations for life in the second tier of the League, which is the Nigeria National League, NNL.
“We are changing the Technical Adviser of the team and ensure that we recruit players that are able and willing to return the team back to the NPFL. Some players have left us since we got relegated, but some notable faces are still on ground with us.
“We are ensuring that there is no disparity between what we were paying the players and coaching staff when we were in the first division and now that we are in the second division. All this is aimed at boosting the morale of the club’s members to give us the desired result.
“Also, we are restructuring the Management of the Club and appoint those who have what it takes to turn around the fortune of the Club.I mean those who are vast in the knowledge and politics of the game and can go an extra mile to achieve result within the possible time frame given to them.
“To ensure that the fans are on ground to lend support to the team, we have completed the renovation work at the home ground of the Club which is the Lafia City Stadium as the artificial grass has been installed.
“So, with adequate home support, we believe the team will do well and win the ticket to return back to the elite league in Nigeria.
“Government is also reviewing the remuneration and financial incentive for the playing, coaching and backroom staff of the Club to see how to improve on it.Furthermore, we are working on setting up a world-class Youth Team that will serve as a feeder to the main Club.
“The structure will be in such a way that players can be developed into graduating into the main team.The age categorization is from 13-19 Years, and these players will also be well remunerated and catered for.
“The Youth Team will save the Government millions of naira in acquisition of already-made players from other clubs.It will also help to boost our revenue drive as they are the real assets of the club, should any club want to engage them
Q: In terms of youth development, what specific programs or initiatives do you plan to implement to empower the youth of Nasarawa State?
ANS: We do this through a Stakeholders’ Interactive Engagement because every community has its peculiar challenges.
We believe in local content development. We think locally but act globally.We give them a sense of belonging and opportunity to explore their talents
Most often, we do this by going from one local government area to the other, or by visiting the three senatorial zones and interface with the key stakeholders
Q: How do you plan to engage with local communities to encourage grassroots participation in sports?
ANS: “We do this through a Stakeholders’ Interactive Engagement because every community has its peculiar challenges.
“We believe in local content development. We think locally but act globally.We give them a sense of belonging and opportunity to explore their talents.
“Most often, we do this by going from one local government area to the other, or by visiting the three senatorial zones and interface with the key stakeholders
Q: Can you share your vision for Nasarawa State’s sports and youth development in the long term, say, over the next five years?
ANS: “I want to leave the Nasarawa State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development better than I met it.
“It’s a daunting task, but with the support of everyone, we can be proud of what we can achieve within the time frame of our being in office. I have already started a partnership engagement and collaboration with key and critical stakeholders to get the needed results
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