Our plans to unearth talents in Lagos State – Tandoh
What is your vision for the Lagos State Sports Commission?
ON my vision for sports development in the state, we must realize that His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is the chief visional for the entire state. Whatever we do here is tied to his over all vision, not just for sports, but also for the entire state.
Therefore the mandate that we have here is to do all we can to ensure that his vision for sports, which I can tell you is very exciting and grandiose, is established and achieved.
To come down to us as the Sports Commission, we are going to be looking at a couple of areas. First of all, we are going to be looking at infrastructure development. We have realized the fact that without facilities, not much could be achieved in sports. When we talk about facilities, we are not talking about building stadia and so on and so forth, but about providing community facilities, which would be more accessible to the people.
Such facilities must of course, also be less expensive in terms of equitable distribution round about the state. We will be looking at building these new community sports centres as the governor had described them. We will also be looking at rehabilitating and refurbishing the existing facilities that we have. And on that I can tell you that work had started in earnest.
As you are all aware, Onikan Stadium is presently being reconstructed and remodeled into world class; not just sports facilities but sports and entertainment facilities.
Agege Stadium is also undergoing renovation right now; I think in the next few weeks, it should be ready for the CAF Champions League competition. I will be leading a team to inspect the ongoing work at Agege Stadium to see that everything is on course. That makes infrastructure development very important.
The second one would be taking sports back to the schools. Everybody talks about the foundation of sports being in the school, but what are we actually doing to ensure that this comes to pass? We will be looking at various angles to tackle this. First of all, we will be working closely with the Ministry of Education, who are the custodians and the owners of the students that are in the schools.
In Lagos State, we have had the privilege of having a good synergy between the sports agencies and the Ministry of Education and we are going to build on that foundation to ensure that the synergy even gets better. We will look at the curriculum; do we have enough of sports in our educational curriculum? If we don’t, how can we increase the number of hours that our children are exposed to sports because just like the Olympics, the solidarity theme goes: mass participation is the first and foremost thing when you talk about introduction of sports to children.
Also along the line of school sports, we have indentified that there seems to be a gap between the public and the private schools in one or two areas. The number one factor is that it seems of facilities, it seems we have more in the private schools.
Number two, the state Sports Commission has not worked as closely enough with the private schools as it does with the public schools. Recently, I was at an event at Lagos Preparatory School, it was a Dolphin Swimming League competition where a lot of private schools participated. When I had it, I told the organisers that we are going to present a team from Lagos also from our public schools. It was a grand event and it opened our eyes to the kind of benefits we can derive if we work closely with the private schools.
Most of these private schools have sporting facilities, and my idea was why can’t we partner with them whereby those sporting facilities are accessible may be once in a week or once in two weeks to us to organise training for students that will come from even the public schools that are in that neigbourhood.
In order words, using the private schools facilities as hub for the other schools that are in that community. Greenspring Schools is one of the private schools with excellent sports facilities and if we are able to win their confidence to open up those facilities to us where we would be able to bring in technical support, bring in coaches that will come and work in those facilities and thereby tap from the public schools that don’t have those facilities.
It is a synergy that can work; it is a synergy that will also explore not just with the individual private schools but even with their association. They have various associations that if we win their confidence, we will be able to marry that.
One of the benefits of that is that because those private schools have facilities, you tend to find that there are talents in those schools that are not exposed to us as a government agency in terms of helping to nurture them to various stars. LPS eight year old, nine year old have already represented their schools in international competitions outside of this shore.
Yet when we want to have national competitions and national events we do not look at this as a pool of talents to represent Lagos State to even identify them that these are possible talents that can be nurtured to even hand over to the national federations. There is a lot of work and there are a lot of benefits to the state and to the country if we can synergise our private schools and our public schools to work together in sports.
The other aspect that we will also be looking at is capacity building. In Lagos Sports Commission right now, I think we have about 11 to 12 coaches on employment. We have 37 sports associations, now how can this number of coaches take care of the whole state that has five divisions and 37 sports? Don’t forget that what we have here at the state level must be replicated at the local government level.
In order words, we need to have coaches at the 57 LGs and LCDAs covering Lagos State. Of course there is no way that the 11 coaches can do this. And that is 57 for one sport and if you look at the 37, you are looking at 37 sports in each of those 57 LGs and LCDAs. We are looking at numbers that are much more than the 11 that we have. We need number one to increase the number of coaches that we have under our employ.
The way and manner we will do this, will decide whether we will continue with the contract coaching system or we try and get His Excellency’s approval to employ coaches. There is nothing wrong with us having 80 to 90 coaches under the employ of the Lagos State Sports Commission.
I recall when we were in school in those days in Kings College, when we had inter-house sports and all that, we used to have coaches from the Lagos State division of the Lagos Island office of the sports council in those days that come to inter house sports because they had coaches that were deployed to cover each of those division and all that. We do not have that any longer.
Our scouting system can never work with that kind of numbers that we have. Our talents identification cannot work and nurturing the athletes, it is minimal with that number.
Apart from the number of the coaches, we also look at their competence and capacity. Many of them need training and retraining. It’s been a quite a while that some of them have attended refresher courses. Aside from increasing number, we also need to increase their knowledge base by exposing them to courses, exposing to training either in-house or within the country or even outside.
So, our capacity building would need to work in that aspect and not for the coaches, we also need capacity building for the administrators. We need capacity for sports officers because these are the people that will be working with the local governments, working with the LCDAs, working with the education districts etc.
Our sport officers also need to be trained and equipped for the work that they are carrying out. I believe by the time we tackle these three major areas of schools sports, capacity building and infrastructure development, we would have done quite a bit in terms of laying a solid foundation for sports in Lagos State.
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