By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
A former Police Affairs Minister and former military governor of the now defunct Western State, Major General David Medayese Jemibewon, has called on sports authorities and stakeholders not to neglect the potential talents that abound in Nigeria saying grooming such talents will not only give the country its pride of place in the sports world but that the youths involved will also be positively engaged.
The former minister stated this while reminiscing on the feat recorded by Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan formerly known as IICC in the 1970s. Jemibewon, who also governed the old Oyo State and clocked 80 years recently, said the government of the state then under his leadership saw the potentials of young players who were playing for 3SC then and decided to encourage them in their careers adding that he was not surprised that players like Segun Odegbami, Kunle Awesu, Muda Lawal, Best Ogedegbe among others won the African Cup Winners’ Cup in 1976, the first time by a Nigeria football club.
He said, “I felt very great when IICC won the Winners’ Cup in 1976. I felt very proud and happy. I was happy that a team from Nigeria was the first to win the competition. It was not easy because of the politics then. There was Water Corporation and IICC both in Ibadan and they are among the best teams in Nigeria then. Some people felt IICC are more supported by the government, but both teams are government-owned teams.”
“The West had everything when it comes to administration in this country. It led in everything. The West led in industry, construction, administration, so sports wise, they were doing well. All I needed to do was to give them confidence and build on the existing foundation. Sports was competitive during that era of Segun Odegbami, Kunle Awesu, Muda Lawal, Best Ogedegbe,” the former minister added.
“It is however sad that some years after we have continued to neglect our sports men and women and this is saddening. This country doesn’t make use of talents but I am happy that the incumbent Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Sunday Akin Dare, has taken the bulls by the horns through the encouragement he has been given to our sports heroes and heroines and through the different programmes he has lined up for the youths. I am sure that in the nearest future our youths will take us to the zenith of the sports world. However, I want to call on the state governments to also come up with good sports policy that will engage our youths positively and keep them away from crime,” the retired general concluded.