By Yemi Sodeeq

In the wake of the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Hon. Sunday Dare efforts and commitment in ensuring that the welfare of sportsmen and women in dire need are given attention and assistance, the Federal Ministry of Sports has written a letter to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) asking them to furnish the Ministry with their plans to offer welfare assistance to players.

This development actually means a lot to Hon. Sunday Dare who have lately dolled out financial and material support to mothers of three top former Nigerian sportsmen who are late (Rashidi Yekini, Samuel Okwaraji and Sunday Bada mother(s) with another ailing ex-defender, Sunday Eboighe getting a similar treatment recently when he was given a cash gift of N50,000 with assurance to pay for his medical bills.

The letter reads apart, “We acknowledge and appreciate the kind gesture of extending support to the families of our fallen heroes in following the lead of the Ministry to pledge the monthly payment of N30,000.

“I wish to further request you to provide information on the welfare scheme (package) put in place by your management to enhance productivity and motivate the welfare of staff and players of your federation, as well as welfare scheme for families of ex-internationals, the sick and injured athletes,” the ministry demanded in the letter to NFF.

Looking at this development critically, many dimensions and perspective come to mind; that may be other Sports Federation should also be asked to do so, how well does our sportsmen and women managed their entitlement while serving, has these sportsmen and women ever been owed and are yet to receive their monies, how best can NFF fashion a package welfare that will include welfare scheme for families of ex-internationals, the sicked and injured athletes that will meet the large demands that will follow suit and perhaps the last one is the question of sustainability.

The aforementioned thoughts were so much needed in this, so that it will not be another fire brigade approach to
“Problems” that has lived with us for years immemorial.

There are many sports under the auspices of Ministry of and Youth and Sports development, with their own commitment to the development of sports image and reputation of our country, it will be tantamount to an ‘unwholly’ approach in solving some of the inherent challenges our sports men and women endure asking only NFF to do so. If we are currently been embittered by the relative ineffectiveness of our sports system, I think it doesn’t start today. Let it not be that we are solving issues from up to down rather from down upwards.

For the umpteenth time, there is also the need to enliven the unfortunate narratives of how our sports men and women are being paid when serving the country. We have seen situation among many other inhumane treatment of our sportsmen and women; the last African Women Nations Cup which held in Ghana had our own Super Falcons team winning the championship. The aftermath of that historic feat was more than appalling as they were not being paid the entitlement on time, the players had to protest over this treatment before they got what rightly belong to them – more than a slap on our cheek as a Nation.

On the other side of hemisphere, we can’t but forget how poor or sometimes unguided some sportsmen and women also manage and live during their spotlight, many forget there is a life after retirement and to which they are not really entitled to any benefits unlike a civil servant or may be Political retirees who also get cashed monthly in another unusual manner of our country system.

Like many other programmes that tend to effect some favourable atmosphere upon the basis which they are being set up, the sustainability of this welfare scheme if at all it comes to pass is another issue that might emerges in their most usual “Nigerianesse” manner.

The big picture of this development is whether we are getting it right or setting it right, presently, no where in the world is the presence of an initiative where ex Internationals families are being catered for. Whenever sportsmen or women retires they take responsibility of their lives after service. So obvious is the fact that whenever there is a need for relief instances like the one we are having presently, it is always rather a willful intervention backed by empathy and philanthropic tendencies and perhaps not a grounded or solely set-up to this effect.

However one will not dissuade a commitment to help any ailing or needing hand but it could only look like a matter of generosity and may be not more than that.

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