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Sports for youth, jobs for all

By Timi Olubiyi
14 May 2021   |   3:49 am
Africa’s youth unemployment rate simply refers to the percentage of the unemployed in the age group of 18 to 35 years as compared to the total labor force.


Africa’s youth unemployment rate simply refers to the percentage of the unemployed in the age group of 18 to 35 years as compared to the total labor force. In Nigeria, the unemployment rate is often higher than the overall Africa’s average due to the country’s total population. According to reliable data, by demographics, over 60% of the population of Nigeria are youths. However, the majority of these youths are without gainful employment, many of them are equally vulnerable and out of any significant social welfare system. This situation also exists in many African countries such as Namibia, Angola, South Africa, and Mozambique, to mention a few.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which is running for over a year now has negatively impacted many economics with outlook dampened, and this has necessitated the higher unemployment rates in many countries. Therefore, in addition to the life-threatening and health risks of the pandemic, the socio-economic impact is likewise real, most importantly with many workers still likely to face job loss, job cuts, salary cuts, and low-income or no-income or even redundancy. In fact, the combined consequences of COVID-19 and youth unemployment is severe and damaging to any nation.

With the current realities, the opportunities for jobs for these teeming youths continues to wane due to the high population, inadequate qualifications, and depressed economic. However, to avoid the impacts of unemployment, coupled with COVID -19 consequences, which include a surge in the prevalence rate of crimes and criminality, it is recommended that sports participation be encouraged by African Governments and policymakers. The participation of young people in economic and social areas will have a great significance for the countries development and improvement.

Africa needs to see sport as a business and also a way to promote healthy and promising citizens. Sports is one of the easiest avenues for young men to quit the poverty lane and unemployment. With sports, the teeming youths can become athletes and be gainfully employed. Besides, there will be more job opportunities and commercialization on the continent for companies, investors, talent scouts, agents, coaches, referees, trainers, sports analysts, media companies, facilities management companies, sport wears companies, and merchandisers. A pleasant sports environment will equally encourage partnerships between businesses and sporting entities such as what is visible with stadia bearing the names of companies and sponsorships deals with company logos appearing on athletes’ clothing and equipment and so on in the developed countries around the world. Studies have shown that sports can provide a reduced risk from alcohol use, smoking, terrorism, criminality, and illicit drug use amongst young people versus those who do not indulge in sports.

A reliable report has shown that there are more than 8000 sports in the world. Yet, there are roughly 200 sports that have international recognition through a reliable international governing body. Nonetheless, the Olympics, which is the pinnacle of sports, has only validated 28 sports as of 2016. To give a general idea of some of the most participated sports using available data from the Olympics, we have adventure Sports (kayaking, canoeing), aquatic sports (swimming, body boarding), strength, and agility sports. (aerobics, gymnastics), ball sports (baseball, basketball, football), mountain sports (climbing, cross-country cycling), and motorized sports(formula racing).

Most of these sporting events are seen as lucrative career options, and in most developed countries, so much effort and resources are channeled into it. From a European perspective, sports-related employment represents a significant percentage of total employment on the continent. The amount of investment and cash that several sports stars earn around the world is mind-blowing. From football to tennis, basketball, motorsport, and boxing, to name a few. Excellent examples from Nigeria are Anthony Oluwafemi Joshua Nigerian-born British boxer (world heavyweight boxing champion), who commands more than £30 million for every fight. This is apart from several endorsements he enjoys. Another athlete is Divine Oduduru, the second-fastest African athlete earning around N180 million yearly. Nigeria’s top table tennis player, Aruna Quadri, has started the year 2020 as the 18th best player in the world and doing well with the sport.  Likewise, John Obi Mikel, Odion Jude Ighalo, Victor Moses, Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Osimhen are earners to reckon with in football. In the ultimate fighting championship (UFC) and kickboxing career, the following Nigerian-born individuals Kamoru Usman, Isreal Adesanya, SodiqYusuff, and Kennedy Nzechukwu are active and dominant in the sport.

According to the National Basketball Association (NBA), four of the players have Nigerian origin, and they are Al-Farouq Aminu, Giannis Antetokounmpo, ChimezieMetu, and Josh Okogie. Interestingly, these sportsmen get additional income from endorsements and sponsorships all over, which leads to additional millions of dollars in earnings. This situation is not only applicable to Nigerians but other well-meaning African nationals. The point is that money will always flow to where the attention of the masses are, such as sports, particularly football, basketball, and boxing. In the same vein, according to compiled data by Forbes magazine, some of the wealthiest athletes globally, are as follows: Floyd Mayweather (boxing), Tiger Woods (Golf), Lionel Messi (football), Christiano Ronaldo (football), Conor McGregor (kickboxing), Neymar (football). It is imperative to state categorically that most of these athletes probably never registered any startup businesses to gain prominence, but they are undeniably talented in what they do because of consistency and dedication. While talents are essential, a lot of seriousness, concentration, and motivation need to go into it to become a great successful athlete.

For sports to have the desired impact, policymakers, sports associations, and the Government need to make decisive and responsive policies to encourage aggressive youth participation in sports and learning programmes. The various sports association, should be designed to run professionally, with competent governing boards just like any major global corporation. So many stakeholders -fans, advertisers, TV stations, investors, and collaborators can equally benefit. Many of the functions within the sports industry are service-based, which means it will be a labor-intensive industry.

Governments can develop sport policies and situate community hubs across cities to bridge the unemployment gap, where young people could come and improve their sports skills and become professional athletes.

Dr. Olubiyi, is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).