By Lizzy Okoji
As the World celebrates the International Day of Sports, the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), has said that plans were on to engage Nigerian youths on crime prevention through sports programmes.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the UN General Assembly declared April 6 every year as the Imternational Day of sports for Development and Peace.
Mr Sylvester Atere, UNODC’s Outreach and Communications Officer in a statement made available to the NAN on Saturday in Abuja, said there was hardly any place on earth where the power of sports football in particular was more present than in Nigeria.
He said this was best summed up by Gianni Infantino, President of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) when he visited Lagos in February 2018.
Atere Quoting Infantino said: “I was told that in Nigeria, football is passion but it is a lie because it is more than that. In Nigeria, I was told that football is love, but it is a lie it is more than that.
“In Nigeria, I was told that football is a religion, but it is a lie. It is more than that. In Nigeria, football is life.”
Atere said that it was on that note the UNODC launched its Youth Crime Prevention through Sports Initiative within the framework of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration.
He said that under the slogan “Line Up Live Up” (LULU) the initiative has designed a programme for youth, living in neighbourhoods severely affected by crime, drugs and violence, aimed to engage them through sports.
Atere explained that the initiative also seeks to help youths build their resilience and leadership in standing up for themselves and others against these societal ills.
He explained that the potential of sports to promote peace and the rule of law appears unlimited, thus rolling out the LULU programme to Nigeria.
“In a 10-week programme, sports coaches, teachers and others working with youth in sports settings build valuable life skills, such as resisting social pressures.
“The programme will include among others like coping with anxiety and communicating effectively with peers, through a set of interactive and fun exercises.
“The programme has been successfully tested in several countries, including South Africa and in Brazil.
“Since 2017, UNODC’s training has been successfully implemented in nine other countries with more than 600 sport teachers and coaches and 4,500 young people trained, women accounts for over 35 per cent of the beneficiary.
In Nigeria, similar initiatives have been undertaken to promote youth development through sports, including the 2018 football tournament organized in Lagos to promote grassroots teams”, Atere said.
He said the programme was in recognition of the universal relevance of sports as a means to promote education, health, development and peace that the UN General Assembly declared April 6 as International Day of Sports for Development and Peace.