Home Cheap jerseys INTERVIEW: How Nigeria can reap more economic benefits from sport than entertainment: UK-based coach

INTERVIEW: How Nigeria can reap more economic benefits from sport than entertainment: UK-based coach


On Monday, Ozoya, the Chairman of Manchester Bulls Football Club, spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on various issues regarding the development of the sport and how Nigeria can benefit from the untapped sports industry.

The UK-based coach, who is also the current divisional secretary for Suffolk’s U-12 leagues and district leagues, shared plans to help unearth talent in the various IDP camps ( IDP) from Nigeria.


PT: Apart from your coaching career, can you tell us a bit about your football career?

Ozoya: At the time, I was playing grassroots football with people like Nduka Ugbade in Surulere, what we called ‘young-young’ then.

I went to CMS Grammar School, and there was a big rivalry with other schools like St. Finbarr’s College, St. Gregory’s, Igbogbi College, Methodist Boys, and all those other big schools.

It was a good time, and we all witnessed the debut of ‘Greater Tomorrow’ at the national stadium back then and we all saw the first group of lucky players like Nduka Ugbade and co who went to play the Cup of China ’85 U-16 World and brought back the glory [for the country].

That’s when a lot of parents in Nigeria realized that it was a good thing to play football because some of us were tied with ropes to our legs so we wouldn’t play football outside. time, but now they have started pushing us to play football. It was a great time in Nigerian football.

PT: Why have you remained an advocate for grassroots development in the UK and in your home country of Nigeria?

Ozoya: It’s just passion… Through my involvement in grassroots football at Swinton FC, I have been able to gain a lot of grassroots knowledge and we have been able to replicate the same in Nigeria since 2013.

Swinton FC also helped me get kits to support grassroots development. We have also organized tournaments in different states and we donate kits, shoes, shirts and balls, to support grassroots football.

I also mentor a lot of coaches and young players whom I refer to scouts who can guide their development in the game.

Currently we have just opened a charity shop in Lagos where you can get some of these kits at a very low price so the money can come back to support tournaments or coach development just to raise money to support the base.

This is where we are.

PT: As someone who has played grassroots football in Nigeria and now as an administrator in the UK, what shortcomings can you identify and how can we get it right in Nigeria?

Ozoya: One of the biggest challenges we have is that we don’t have a roadmap for the development of sport, let alone football. We need to have a SMART sports policy in Nigeria, something that is measurable and time bound, and we need to set targets.

There are collaborations that can boost the Nigerian sports sector
There are collaborations that can boost the Nigerian sports sector

That’s why it has to be SMART. Then all National Governing Bodies need to develop these policies and embed them in the sports they play and implement these policies in their various sports.

What we have right now, you can’t place it here or there. In England, they only have around five goals; in France they have about five to seven goals.

We know that the Nigerian environment differs from the European environment, but we can always rationalize what we want to achieve in our sports,

PT: The Nigeria team was in the UK recently and did exceptionally well. How did that make you feel?

Ozoya: We performed very well. This makes us all very proud and this is the best time to be Nigerian, but if we are to be honest, did we have a proper structure in place that got the athletes to where they are? Most of them did not train locally.

They had to be trained outside, so as part of our future development for the sport in Nigeria, some of these things that we’re going to do outside to train our kids, we can have them locally, so we can have more of these talents.

With our population, we should dominate all the sports in which we participate; it is my belief.

PT: So how can Nigeria dominate in these sports?

Ozoya: If we have the right structure in place. In football, for example, we should transfer as many players as possible out of Nigeria. If we develop coaches very well, we will have the best players because currently, how many coaches do we develop annually?

How many pitches do we create annually? How much are we investing in the base in all states? I know we have them in the states, local governments and the federal government, but the question is do they really work?

Do they really work together? Do we really have a goal for the year that is what we want to achieve?

During those years when we were growing up, we used to have the Principal’s Cup, inter-class games and inter-school sports, people played in college, etc., and people went to clubs after the transition from primary to secondary.

Today, do we really have this path in our country?

These are the areas to which we must return. Back then, when you wanted to go to high school, you paid for sports equipment and all that, then when you go to your school you see different sports that you can participate in, but today we even have schools that have fields and sports facilities?

Back then you could even play cricket in some schools, but today how many students have even seen a cricket bat?

There’s so much that can be done and it takes bringing together a lot of professionals who have developed themselves as admins and managers in the game, not just the old players.

Sports journalists, sports scientists… it’s quite a team so all sports professionals need to come together to sit down and watch Nigerian sports and come up with a sports policy that is SMART and then set a timeline of what we want to achieve in our sports.

We have the resources and the human capital; we can rule the world.

PT: Why do you think Nigeria needs more investment in the sports industry?

Ozoya: Nigeria needs to look at the grassroots from a youth development perspective because with the grassroots we will engage them positively, it is one. Second, we will improve the health of Nigerian citizens if we invest in sports and provide facilities and some kind of education on the importance of sports.

Moreover, it will be like another point in Nigeria where we can revive the economy. If we have a proper sports structure in Nigeria, I bet the economic, health and safety benefits will be enormous, so this is my message to our administrators and the people who manage our sports.

I will implore them to reach out to many Nigerians who are professionals and who understand what needs to be done to help Nigeria get to where we need to be and involve them in advancing the sport.

There are many Nigerians who will want to support whatever they do to bring the sport to this level. We can call on some of our professionals who are doing well to come home.

Nigeria can earn a lot in the manufacture of kits and equipment
Nigeria can earn a lot in the manufacture of kits and equipment

Sport can bring us more economic benefits than what we currently get from the entertainment industry, because when you look at volume, especially in football, for example, how many footballs do we play per day? So if we invest in a football factory that produces the ball, how many jobs are we going to create? How much will we earn?

Then look at parents who jog or those who play basketball, volleyball and other sports. If we manufacture this equipment in Nigeria, how much will we sell and how much will it return as tax to the government?

How many young people will be employed in the sports industry? Sport is a massive industry. So, I always plead with our administrators to consider sport as another way to earn foreign currency to help our economy. We can no longer rely solely on oil. We know it’s not sustainable, but the sports industry will also help our economy.

Economic planners should also consider how they can harness the benefits of sport.

PT: Are there other ways to use sport, especially football, to positively affect society?

Ozoya: Our Foundation is moving away from the normal development aspect that they know us for, towards the humanitarian aspect. We are looking at how to attract talent from some of the IDP camps in Nigeria, to represent Nigeria in about 10 years at the Olympics or commonwealth games, because we know that there is a lot of talent. We are looking for young players in the IDP camps to play in the Premiership. This is the vision I have and what we want to work on for our humanitarian journey.

PT: Considering that we have several IDP camps scattered across the country, are there any specific camps that you are targeting?

Ozoya: For now, we will focus more on the Northwest. Yes, we can provide food, shelter and housing, and other essentials, but we have to give them hope, and I don’t think we’re doing much for them in that area.

We can’t have children – a generation that doesn’t have a good education, skills or sporting opportunities. So I think we need to do more to support the IDP camps. This is why we are looking at the humanitarian aspect, while also continuing the development aspect that we started in 2013.

PT: Thanks for the audience

Ozoya: You’re welcome.

Support the integrity and credibility journalism of PREMIUM TIMES

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can guarantee the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy and a transparent government.

For free and continued access to the best investigative journalism in the country, we ask that you consider providing modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you help sustain relevant journalism and keep it free and accessible to everyone.

Make a donation

ANNOUNCEMENT TEXT: Call Willie – +2348098788999

Announcement of the PT Mag campaign