BusinessDay

‘How sport can be made commercially viable’

Beverley Agbakoba-Onyejianya, a regulatory, compliance and professional sports lawyer has called for more investment in sport infrastructures and qualified professionals appointed into sporting positions across Nigeria to help discover hidden talents while making sport commercially viable.

The lawyer stated this while speaking with journalists at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Victoria Island, during the sport professionals networking cocktail which was part of activities for this year’s sport business and development summit which is hosted by the Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL).

The two-day event was held virtually with the theme: Let’s Develop The Game’ and targeted sports lawyers, commercial sports business people, sports bodies and regulators and sought to connect international and national stakeholders in the sports industry.

She noted that there was the need for government at all levels to give sport the necessary attention to strive by enacting the requisite legislation, stressing that sport had become a money-spinning venture that could employ a large number of Nigerians if it was properly administered.

“We are not paying enough attention to what people are doing, what people come across as entertainment, but the work is just as valid because the function of sport is unifying, bridging the gap in society.

“When you look at the population and the available sport centres to play in Nigeria, we can say the ratio is so poor, that tells you there is the need to build more infrastructures and appoint professionals to handle different aspects of sport,” Agbakoba-Onyejianya said.

Agbakoba-Onyejianya added that sport needs to be run professionally to make it attract the right investor, stressing that sport lawyers play crucial roles that are vital to contractual fulfilment and overall sport success.

According to her, “Counsel has a vital role to play; we need to look beyond seeing sport as just playing football; it extends to training, awareness, manufacturing and so on.

“Sport lawyers play crucial roles, we need them to guild the contractual agreement, without lawyers there would be a misunderstanding. Even if you allow the disputes to happen, who would resolve this dispute? It is the lawyers.

“Sport is expansive, is it about gender inclusion, is it about coaching, it seems to flourish abroad, but we are not seeing the sport here, not to talk about business aspects with lawyers”.

Read also: Sports should go beyond games, be expansive, others- Beverley Onyejianya

One of the sponsors of the event, Ugo Udezoh, CEO of Alpha Sport, applauded the effort of Olisa Agbakoba Legal for hosting this year’s sport business and development summit, stressing that it had created an opportunity where sport professionals and stakeholders can discuss find a way of factors militating against sport business in the country.

“What Beverley Agbakoba-Onyejianya is doing is important to the eco–system of sport business and we want to help propagate it. The networking cocktail for individuals and stakeholders in the sport sector is great; I met a lot of professionals in sport doing wonderful things in Nigeria and the globe.

“For Nigeria, sport business may not be there yet, it is a process, but those in charge have to make it attractive enough for sponsors to come and put their money”, Udezoh said.

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