Friday, June 7, 2013

President Goodluck Jonathan, At the Launch of the Rhythm N’ Play Campaign for Grassroots Sports Mobilisation

Thursday, 6th June 2013
I would like to thank all of you for being here today, for the Presidential launch of the ‘Rhythm N’ Play Campaign’for Grassroots Sports Mobilisation. 

2.         Today marks another historic day in our renewed sports development drive, which has already started yielding visible results and national glory.

3.         You will all recall that late last year, we convened the Retreat on Sports which not only analysed the challenges in the Sector but also came up with a clear Roadmap for its development in the short, medium and long terms.

4.         Already, 2013 is turning out to be a success for the country in Sports. In February, our gallant Super Eagles won the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).  Two weeks ago, I hosted a joint Reception for the Golden Eaglets who represented the country at the African Under 17 Football Championship in Morocco as well as our Athletics Team which emerged overall winners of the maiden Under 18 African Athletics Championship in Warri. |

5.         They were honoured for their extra-ordinary feat and display of talent in their chosen sports at the international arena.  So far, we are doing well in our effort to fly the Green-White-Green in the Football World Cup tournament in Brazil next year.  This is a great moment for sports in Nigeria. 

6.         We must build on this momentum and trend.  We must take every step to ensure that our successes are sustained.  We believe that grassroots sports development and nurturing provide the way.

7.         Sport is an important vehicle for fostering cohesion and nation building. This has been amply demonstrated in the greater attention Government has given to sports development. In National competitions, it mirrors our pride, emotion, unity and discipline. Aside from these obvious benefits that sporting glory brings, it is also a major tool for youth development.

8.         Through sports, people imbibe self-discipline, perseverance, team spirit and patriotism. Encouraging young people to take on sports, also helps to build a generation that is healthier in body and mind and, therefore, able to contribute more fully to national development. 

9.         Government remains firmly committed to the development of our youth to ensure they grow up as healthy, responsible and productive citizens with available opportunities to make easier life choices.  This is the spirit of our Government of Transformation.  We must collectively build a worthy nation for the younger generation.

10.    Considering its long-term socio-economic benefits, this administration is irrevocably committed to grassroots sports development. We believe that our young people must be encouraged to have an early start in sporting activities. 

11.    'Rhythm N’ Play,' the  programme that we are launching today, is aimed at providing young Nigerians under the age of 17 years, with structured programmes that combine sports and play as critical learning and development tools. 

 12.    As the biggest campaign for youth participation in sports ever launched in our country, this initiative will revolutionize grassroots sports in our dear nation. Our target is to introduce 2 million additional children to sports over the next two years.

13.    In this regard, I have directed the National Sports Commission and the Federal Ministry of Education, to work in concert towards achieving this target. 

14.    Through this targeted effort, our administration intends to bring physical education back to our schools, and make participation in sports activities compulsory for all pupils and students.

15.    We are not unaware of the fundamental constraints facing this initiative, such as inadequate sporting facilities and qualified coaches in the majority of our educational institutions.

16.    Nevertheless, we are determined to reverse this situation. We will overcome existing constraints by articulating cost efficient solutions to empower children and facilitate greater interest and participation in sports. 

17.    As we launch this campaign today, I call on all State Governments and all other stakeholders, including the private sector, to give full support to the realization of its objective. Partnering with you in developing sports facilities in rural and urban areas, we are certain to significantly spur the growth and development of grassroots sports.

18.    Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, let me emphasise, once again, that we must all commit to building a new Nigeria for our children.  It is now my honour to formally launch the ‘Rhythm N’ Play Campaign’.

19.              I thank you.

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