In and Around Benin City Colunmnist, Samuel Eromosele met with the Director, Information and Communication, Young Winners Grassroot Foundation, Uyi Ogbebor for a chat and he speaks on the mission of the foundation.
What’s the Inspiration Behind Young Winners Grassroot Stars Foundation?
Well, someone had to do something right? You can feel it all around you. The despondency is palpable. The country is down on almost any relevant metric. Not too long ago, we were said to be the world’s poverty capital. In all of these, the youth and the young ones are the worst affected. You see a lot of our youths just roaming the streets, desperately destitute. It is painful to see. We happen to have a population that has its majority as youth – as much as 41% are under the age of 15. The youths are the future of any nation and the core drivers of the nation’s aspirations. That’s the inspiration behind our foundation. It is born out of a desire to bring change. We are using the medium of football which is a national language to mould our young ones into better adults to create a future and a hope for them. It is born out a genuine desire because of the critical role they play in shaping the future of the nation. To show that there is more to life beyond the despair, despondency and destitution that they see and so that they don’t fall into delinquency.
There’s also the desire to give back to the society and Young Winners Grassroot Stars Foundation represents our widow’s mite.
What Does the Foundation Aim to Achieve?
Young Winners Grassroot Foundation aims at discovering and developing young talents in football. We are looking at youngsters between the ages of 10 and 16. These youngsters would be given the best training available.
How is Young Winners Grassroot Stars Foundation Funded?
Young Winners Grassroot Stars Foundation is 100 percent self-funded for now but we are open to sponsorship, collaboration and donation from well-meaning individuals and organisations.
What in Your Opinion is the Challenge of Sports Development in Nigeria?
I would say sports development in Nigeria is bedeviled majorly by the twin forces of lack of a vision and a poor economy.
We lack a clear and concise vision regarding the development of sports in Nigeria – government and private institutions. In the absence of a vision, there’s destruction – the scripture affirms that. We are yet to see the big picture here. There are sporting franchises valued at over a billion dollars the world over. Examples abound. Sadly, in this clime, sports is mostly run by government who see it as nothing more than a play thing. This in turn hampers development of sports in the country. The private sector are not getting involved in sports enough. How many of the NPFL teams are privately owned? It’s just a handful. The fact that we don’t have a strong economy and lack infrastructure also hasn’t helped matters. We are unable to derive or extract the maximum benefit we can from sports.
Tell us About the Founder and His Vision for Youths and Sports Development in Nigeria.
Our founder is Austin Ogbemudia Osemwegie. He is from Edo State, Nigeria. He is an academic and an entrepreneur and a renowned lover of sports. His vision for youths and sports development in Nigeria is pretty much encapsulated in the founding of this foundation. He is very passionate about Nigeria and believes very much in her people. He believes Nigeria has what it takes to not just be one of the greatest sporting nations in the world owing to the vastness of her human resource and also, the resilience and determination embodied in the Nigerian spirit, but also one the most advanced nations in the world. He believes sports could be a veritable tool for reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development. He envisions a Nigeria that can harness the enormous potential that sports offer and become a dominant force in sports globally. He has decided to walk the talk by setting up Young Winners Grassroot Stars Foundation.