The Founder, Ozoya Football Foundation, Monday Ozoya, has harped on the need for Nigeria to put more efforts and investment towards developing grassroots sports in the country.
He made this statement recently while speaking with THISDAY at a grassroots football competition sponsored by the foundation, at Owoseni Primary School, Oshodi area of Lagos State.
According to him, “We founded the Ozoya Football Foundation because we noticed there is a need to really support grassroot development.
“Today in Nigeria, what we see everywhere is all about promoting elite football. Everybody is looking for a quick return, forgetting that if we don’t build the grassroot, and create a pathway, we would be struggling at our national level.
“What we see happening at the national level today is that we are always going to seek for players from outside the country to come and represent us, instead of us having abundant talents within which we have invested over a long period of time.
“If you look back to what is happening in Nigeria, most of our young talents came from secondary schools. This is because there used to be a pathway from primary school to secondary in sports.
“So you hear about schools like Finbers, CMS, Kings College, Methodist Boys, St Gregory, Igbobi College, Baptist Academy, there were lots of talents from those secondary schools straight into professional football.
“But do we still have that same pathway for young talents today? There is a void in this regard today. So, being someone that is professionally sound in the area of sport development, I can’t be doing that outside in my community in Manchester, and I am not able to replicate the same by giving back to the youth. That is why we are here today.
“We know that the foundation is struggling with resources, we have the network to get boots, jersey’s down here to support them, but we would need the government’s support to be able to support them better,” he noted.
Ozoya equally expressed displeasure at the lack of priority placed on grassroots sports development by the government.
“I see government building roads, and luxury houses within the state, but take a look at the secondary schools around, most specifically this compound we are. This little football pitch might not look important but it’s great for this school.
“There should be a lot of investment, even if it’s through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to improve on this pitch and raise it to a certain standard where we look into the safety of pitches.”
He, therefore, encouraged the government to put up training that will take care of safeguarding footballers and other stakeholders on the pitch.
“We have got abundant talents here at the grassroots, and we must tap into it and develop them to become world standard,” he said.