BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Memories of the glorious past of Nigeria’s football came flooding as Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite, Nigeria’s minister of Mines and Steel Development received the Organising Committee for the 50th Anniversary of the passage of Nigerian legendary footballer, Tesilimi Balogun in his office.
The minister displayed an encyclopaedic knowledge of the football industry when he reeled out the country’s glorious past and footballers that the current generation of Nigerian youths should take inspiration from.
In throwing his weight behind the organisation of the 50th anniversary of Thunder Balogun, Adegbite remarked on the good image football and footballers have given Nigeria and harped on the need for the country to use the game to further improve on the international image of the country.
“I remember when I introduce myself as a Nigerian abroad, the first enquiry people also make are on the notable footballers the country had produced. ‘How is Amokachi?
He recalled the golden era of Nigerian football especially the exploits in the US during the World Cup in 1994 and later at the Atlanta ‘96 where Nigeria became the first country outside the Europe to win the football gold medal in 68 years.
Before then, the last time a non-European won was in 1928 when Uruguay won the gold medal. According to Adegbite, Nigeria will have to embark on human capital development in sports for the country to re-enact the golden age.
To this, he believes that emphasis should be on empowering the youths and engaging in skill acquisition to uplift the youth for a brighter Nigeria in the future.
He remarked that he once visited a state in the country where the governor had embarked on massive upgrading of roads. ‘But today, citizens are avoiding travelling on the roads for fear of hoodlums.
He made reference to the popular saying of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo that the “children of the poor you failed to train will never let your children have peace.”
Adegbite remarked that the untrained children of the poor will at first be beggars and mere urchins. But as they grow older, proceeds from such ventures would no longer take care of their needs and they resort to crime and violence.
He therefore suggested that there must be more emphasis of skill acquisition than merely providing amenities that are rendered useless. He bemoaned the state of some sports facilities in the country which ought to provide avenues for skill acquisition by the youths in sports.
He therefore commended the Lagos State Government for not just naming a sports facility after Tesilimi ‘Thunder’ Balogun, but also constantly renovating it.
Adegbite will be the chairman at the opening ceremony at the week-long 50th anniversary of Thunder Balogun in July this year.