Gov. Douye Diri of Bayelsa has urged multinational oil companies and corporate organisations to take over the sponsorship of sports as government ownership of teams was no longer fashionable.
The governor made the call on Friday in Yenagoa, when the Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Daniel Igali presented the official kits of Bayelsa United Football Club (FC) to him.
“Sports is no longer fashionable with government. It is now private sector driven. This is the only way we can grow sports across Nigeria,’’ he said.
Diri noted that for sporting activities to thrive in Nigeria, the private sector must participate in its development.
The governor enjoined multinational companies not to only tap the oil resources in the state and invest in foreign clubs, but to redirect same to the youth through sports.
He urged private firms to harness the potential of talented youths in the state through sports.
“We must allow the private sector to participate in sports development.
“Let me again make a clarion call on private sector companies and individuals to come on board and copy from this youthful company.
“Let me call on multinationals and our Nigerian companies to support sports development and indeed take over the administration and control of most of these areas in sports development.
“For us in Bayelsa, our emphasis is always on multinational oil companies as we see them sponsoring these events outside this country,’’ he said.
He commended the producers of the club`s kits, a Nigerian sports management company, XO Sports, for the kitting deal for the state-owned club.
Diri said he was excited that a young Nigerian entrepreneur, Mr Ken Odogu was behind the deal to kit the team at no cost to the state government.
Diri, a one-time Commissioner for Sports, directed his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo to ensure the immediate constitution of substantive boards for Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens FCs.
He also directed the procurement of buses for both teams, stating that his administration was committed to enhancing sporting activities in the state.
Earlier, Igali said over the years, the state spent huge sums of money buying kits for its football teams.
He noted that with the sponsorship initiated by XO Sports to supply and partner with the ministry on club jerseys, that chapter was closed.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of XO Sports, Odogu explained that the idea behind sponsoring kits for the club was to bridge the gap of government’s financial burden on state-owned clubs.
Odogu disclosed that part of the contract with the ministry was to market the jerseys to fans in order for them to replicate jerseys during matches.
The highpoint of the visit was the presentation of branded Bayelsa United jerseys to the governor and his deputy.