School sports is the bedrock of national unity, so all efforts must be geared towards protecting it for national development,’’ the President of Nigeria School Sports Federation (NSSF) Ibraheem Muhammad, has said.
Muhammad told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the final 19thNNPC/Shell played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, that school sports could help children to imbibe tolerance.
He said that schools sports beyond competitions were a unifying factor that could engender bonding among various tribes in Nigeria.
“We only talk of schools sports in form of grassroots sports development but it is more than that; it gives more opportunities to all the students.
“It is an opportunity for the young school children in primary and secondary schools to showcase their talents and also get supports educationally.
“It is therefore more than all these because the children at the same time get the opportunity to travel across Nigeria and get to know other states and their culture.
“The school sports are organised in all the states of the federation, including Abuja, so the children have the opportunity of travelling wide which brings more unity,’’ he said.
Muhammad said that with the opportunity of travelling across the country opened to the children, they would learn to appreciate other people’s culture and respect them.
“The children are not conscripted to their environment alone; but they have the opportunity of meeting others at their young age. At that young age, they are already learning how to respect others.
“Having a competition that can foster unity among all nationalities in Nigeria is such a wonderful heritage we must strive to protect.
“The children will not be narrow minded because as they are pursuing their education, they are also travelling wide which is also part of learning what they should know about the country.
“Schools sports widens the horizon of the children and they also learn about competitiveness and the spirit of fairness,’’ he said.
To protect school sports and ensure its sustenance, Muhammad called on the government to ensure that the sponsors of the various school sports were encouraged.
“To underscore the importance of this school sports to our country, I am calling on the government to provide more support to the sponsors of the various competitions.
“Government should assist them because they cannot do it alone. This is one of the avenues to foster more unity among Nigerians, so we must protect it.
“We can see that unity is exemplified here with all the tribes in Nigeria present in the stadium without any rancour.
“The tournament preaches tolerance and fairness which are the main ingredients Nigeria needs to further ensure unity among all,’’ he said.