The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare believes the sporting community will benefit a lot from the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
In an interview with Channels Sports, Mr. Dare explained that the initiative provides accelerated access for those in the sports sector who are entrepreneurs or active in the business space to get funding that will support their enterprise, ideas, and innovations.
The Federal Executive Council, on July 22, approved the establishment of the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).
A minimum of N25 billion each year in the next 3 years making a total of N75 billion will be required for the project.
For the remaining part of 2020, an initial sum of N12.5 billion will be needed to kick start the process.
It is expected that successive governments will keep the fund alive
”To a very large extent, our youths engage in sports,” he said. “When you look at the sports value chain, beyond just being an active athlete, there is a value chain in the sporting industry.
“For instance, football, the merchandise – football boots, jerseys stockings, football itself, tennis rackets etc. If we find our youths, and many of them are involved in the process. Those that can produce sneakers and other sporting products can step forward, present their ideas with their business plans, and access the funds that we have in NYIF. I think that’s an opportunity for our youths in the sporting sector.”
The Minister added that NYIF comes to compliment several other government programmes that are youth-focused at different levels within different ministries and departments of government.
”We think that clearly across the world, the only way you can really address and bring down the numbers of youth unemployment is by turning them into entrepreneurs,” he said.
“To do that, you must invest in their ideas, invest in the plans they have, support their enterprises. So we thank president Buhari for approving this, with the entirety of the federal executive council members who stood solidly behind the Nigerian youths.
”Several of our youths are also involved in other sectors. We have seen the explosive potentials of our youths on the global stage. Most of them are snatched up by other counties who easily make credit available for them, venture capitalists.
“This time, Nigeria is taking a risk in putting its money behind the ideas of the youths and we saying its time to improve on their local contents and the country is ready to invest.”
The fund aims to reach 500,000 youths annually between 2020 and 2023.
Each fund approval will range from N250,000 to N50 million, with a spread across group applications, working capital loans set at one year, and term loans set at three years with a single-digit interest rate of 5%.
The Minister agrees, to some extent, that the pause in sporting activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic has actually given a bit of a breather to step back and try to see how the ministry can re-plan and revamp some of its efforts.
“The window provides a good opportunity for reflection and improvise on ways to get better,” he said. “But the ministry admits the pandemic also brings a constant worry.
”On the part of the athletes who have prepared for either the sports festival or the Olympics, it’s been really a downturn for them because most of them have prepared long and hard for these competitions, most of them earn their pay and revenue from competing and we have had to struggle with those two aspects, the athletes getting rusty, the fact that their streams of income have been blocked.
“That’s been two twin challenges we’ve had to deal with and I think that to a large extent, the response of the ministry of Youth and Sports to an extent through the ad hoc palliative we had, the response of the IOC, the response of the world athletics, FIFA and other bodies have gone a long way to bring succour to sportsmen and women across the world, particularly Nigerians. That gladdens our hearts.
“But there are a few lessons learned, we’ve stepped back to response in a proactive way to the Covid-19 challenges.
“Sports, apart from the aviation industry, remains one of the hardest hit when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic and you’ll recall that it is sports that took the first bold step in this country to shut down the national sports festival in a proactive response to stop the spread of Covid-19 in Nigeria”, he confirmed.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports development has taken a couple of proactive steps just like other sectors of the economy.
Two weeks ago, they came up with a Covid-19 sports resumption protocol which was put together by the ministry and circulated among the sporting federations across the country for their input was benchmarked against similar sporting protocols of world athletics, IOC and even Fifa.
The comprehensive safety protocol document was submitted to the presidential task force set up by President Muhammadu Buhari on Covid-19.
On July 10, the Nigeria Football Federation in an online meeting agreed that full enforcement of licensing regulations and financial controls for the Nigeria Professional Football League will commence from the 2020/2021 season.
All clubs are required to comply, failing which they will be barred from participating.
The minister confirmed they support the move from the football body.
”We have decided to work with the NFF, we had quite a number of meetings,” he said. “The NFF executive body, finally based on the elections held with club owners decided that we should end the league season so that we have enough time to prepare to start the next season, 2020/2021.
“We hope that the intervening period we have will give us time, will give the NFF time and our football clubs to get their players, managers, and coaches to imbibe the Covid-19 protocols, put together in place the Covid-19 infrastructure that is needed to return to the domestic football league.
“But more importantly, to bring back the licensing conditions and regulations that are necessary because we are entering a new regime in which all licensing conditions in the books for our domestic clubs must be enforced to the latter. Such that if we are going to end up with eight clubs, I think we are ready. We want to put a value on the clubs, we want to put value on our players, we want to make sure that our league in this country starts to be at par with what we see in the EPL, La Liga, and Bundesliga’.”