I’m sitting in a class writing this. A guy is rolling out financial data of a High School in Michigan. The annual budget of this school’s Sports programs is $400,000. That is four hundred thousand dollars. Using today’s exchange rates, we are looking at N176,000,000. That’s a hundred and seventy six million Naira. And for those who don’t know, a High School team is more or less what you call a Secondary School in Nigeria.
Before I go on, I’ll like to say this is not an attempt to riddle what we currently have in Nigeria or to insult anyone or anything like that but to get us to move from ‘fair’ to ‘good’ and to ‘better’ and ultimately the ‘best’. The disbursement of this fund of course does not include payment of salaries for the athletes. It actually funds spent on 18 different sporting events. Soccer or what we call football is only one of this 18.
These sports programs – hockey, basketball, soccer, football, tennis, water polo, golf, cheerleading etc will all get their chunk of this $400,000 and it’s an annual budget. That means another $400,000 or more would be disbursed among these programs and every new year top athletes are rolled out in different ‘Secondary’ schools in the country and in every Olympic game, the United States of Amercia would finish in the top three. Nigeria? somewhere toward the bottom of the pile, with One Bronze or One Silver medal. Giant of Africa.
We rant everyday on how we are blessed with abundant human resources. No one comes even close to us on how proud we are and it may not be untrue but it seems like we are excelling only in soccer alone. Ok, excelling in itself is relative because nowadays that we can’t seem to make it to the AFCON, excelling surely would have a different definition in this respect.
The best our high schools do is Inter House Sports or some annual village soccer tournament where it stops with just the winners. Nothing is done by way of planning for the future, no one even thinks of it. Are the people in the sporting ministries so clueless that absolutely nothing can be done to turn our potentials into money? The sports commissions in my opinion can out in place programs that will outlive them but will make indelible mark in the future of coming generations.
It does look as though recent posts have been all about complaints and all but when you see what people are doing with the opportunity of sports, you wanna ask like a Nigerian parent would ask – “The person who finished top of the class, does he have two heads?” Everyone wants to make quick money but the situation currently is like people want to eat their seed rather than plant it and expect a harvest.
My heart bleeds because to say we are underperforming is an understatement. Have you been to the Adokiye Stadium in Port Harcourt where facilities worth billions of Naira are being wasted? Someone would say the bane of sports is a lack of funds. That’s the biggest deceit you can ever hear. Well-planned and well-executed ideas produce money. It’s as simple as that. How does the High School in my opening paragraph get money? Sponsorship. Tickets. Prize money from competitions. Guess which football club in Nigeria that can’t show any of sponsorships, ticket sales and prize money from competitions?
We can’t claim to want to be big if we keep showing how clueless we are in taking advantage of opportunities. If you are unsure of what to do, go sign up for Sports Institute of Barcelona’s Football Marketing and Management Program. @SBI_Barcelona on Twitter. And if you think education is too expensive, try ignorance.