Beverley Agbakoba-Onyejianya, a regulatory, compliance and professional sport lawyer has advised governments at all levels to provide more sports infrastructures across the country and scholarships to encourage more young Nigerians, especially females to show interest in sport.
Agbakoba-Onyejianya noted that sport can be used to check the rising unemployment rate in Nigeria and promote unity if government at all levels tap into the enormous sport’s potential among the youth.
The sports lawyer stated this during the opening ceremony of the U15 inter-school female football competition held at Meadowhall School Lekki.
She said sports can help to instil discipline in students while helping them to learn how to work as a team.
She further stated that the lack of enough football competition for female students in secondary schools in Lagos State motivated her to organise the competition.
According to her, “The goal is to produce talents that will be groomed to represent Nigeria at different levels.
“I was encouraged to organize the competition; there is few football competition for females in secondary schools in Lagos State.
“The more they come together to play together, their skills develop.
“We get more of that developmental level in secondary school because if you think of it, the girls at the top today came from grassroots.
“A lot of girls are not informed about female football. We have decided that this competition is going to be an annual event, teams would hear about this and get on board and it would also go national soon.
“Sport helps to instil discipline in the girls; they learn to work as a team. They just become well-rounded members of society.
“Learning should not be all academic, sport is necessary.
Speaking further, “They learn social skills, and they can tap into international football scholarships. The girls can also get scholarships within Nigeria here.
“Government can make more finance available for sports professionals and build infrastructures to promote the sport.
“We have a young population, a lot of these young men and women can be gainfully employed through sport, if there are scholarships available to encourage them to school and do sport, this takes them away from crime and other anti-social activities.
Also speaking, Ayodele Thomas, CEO, of Toppro Football Management said such competition was overdue in Lagos State, noting that the lack of enough football competition for secondary school girls in Nigeria had affected talent discovery.
Thomas advised governments at all levels to support efforts by private individuals to promote female football and sport in general.
He called for the establishment of more sporting infrastructures across the country to aid sporting activities and talent discovery.
According to Thomas, “This is a well-thought-of and well-organized event. The reason for this is to promote the girl child; we don’t have a lot of these events promoting the girl child.
“Under 15 inter-school football competition is one of those programs, the government should encourage, sporting event. This kind of competition helps in social integration and encourages girls to have options in life.
“Often we think academics is the only way to survive, but there are several areas of sport they can choose to go into and do well.
“So this kind of academic is also another way of looking for them to express themselves.
“There is another way of living and there are other beneficial ways to survive, sport should also be encouraged at all levels.
“We need a lot of infrastructure; today we are using private school fields to play because we do not have public fields around.
“We need to encourage private investors to invest in sport by giving incentives o them”.
The competition which was organized by Lagos Tigers FC and Kidsport FC will be an annual event.
In the final of the football competition, Leadforte defeated Corona by 1 goal to nil.