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Saraki lauds SWAN at 53

*As Sirawoo predicts better days ahead

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday congratulated the leadership and members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) as they mark the celebration of the association’s 53rd anniversary.

Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, noted that SWAN has justified its existence through its numerous achievements and contribution towards sports development in the country.

He noted that the body has not only grown as a sports watchdog but has evolved over the years to become a critical stakeholder in effective sports administration in the country.

He urged SWAN to continue to be at the vanguard of advocacy to reposition the sports sector in the country and create awareness on the need for sports’ funding to be solely undertaken by the private sector while government should play the role of regulator in the sector.

“I am aware that SWAN is presently advocating for the establishment of a sports university in the country. I believe that this is the way to go as such a specialized institution when realized would help in no small measure to equip our sports men and women with cutting edge skills, orientation and international best practices that would help them excel both within and outside the shores of this country.

“The proposed Sports University would also help to build and equip a critical mass of sports administrators in the country in particular and the West African sub-region in general. This will no doubt raise the tempo of sporting activities in the continent and beyond,” he said.

The Senate President further urged SWAN to remain focused and dedicated to the ideals of nation building, adhere strictly to the ethics of the profession and help promote all sporting activities in the country to enable them gain the confidence and trust of corporate entities so as to attract sponsorship.

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Honour Sirawoo, has paid glowing tributes to founding fathers and past presidents of the association as the body marks 53 years of creation on February 1st.

SWAN was born on the 1st of February, 1964 in Lagos under the leadership of James Adebayo Thompson.

In a message to sports writers across the country, Sirawoo reflected on contributions made by sports journalists to the growth and development of sports in Nigeria in the past 53 years.

According to him, as a body, we may not have met all expectations but sports writers have been an integral part of Nigeria’s march to greatness travelling all over the world to cover and record history as they were being made by Nigerians in various sectors of sports.

Through coverage of the Olympic to All Africa Games, from the World Cups to African Cup of Nations, from Commonwealth Games to National Sports Festivals and other Championships, Sirawoo said sports writers have brought glory and honour to the country through reportage.

While recognizing the challenges faced in the course of sports news and reportage, he stressed that members of the association have surmounted odds to record for posterity the various landmark achievements of Nigerians in all field of sports.

“As we celebrate 53 years of our existence, it affords us the opportunity to do some stock taking and reflect on how our founding fathers and past leaders have been able to weather the storm and bring the association to where it is today.

“While we may feel that we have not been adequately given due recognition in the history of Nigeria, our love and patriotism for our country has never wavered. In rain and shine, we have helped to place sports development on front burner and the discovery of talents across all sports have been part of our efforts,” he stated.

However, Sirawoo, who became SWAN National Chairman on the 13th of July last year, stated that the association will continue to highlight the importance of sports to Nigeria’s development and its abundance of opportunities to take many Nigerians out of poverty.

“As one of the critical stakeholders in sports administration and management in Nigeria, we will continue to constructively criticize where necessary and give due credits where it is deserving. We remain committed to the ideals of our founding fathers to ensure this great nation succeeds in terms of sports.

“Sport has changed tremendously from what it was in the last 50 years. Today, sport is a major money-spinner; billions of dollars change hands every year across the world. People’s lives have been turned around and many families lifted out of poverty. As stakeholders, we will partner with the government, sports administrators and managers to create the enabling environment for talents to be discovered and nurtured to bring glory to our fatherland and also, eke out means of livelihood,” he stressed.

The SWAN boss explained that under his leadership, the association was already making giant strides in repositioning and shaping for emerging trends in the world of sports.

“Let me humbly inform our founding fathers and my colleagues that we are almost securing the land donated to us by the FCT administration to build our permanent office, we now have a temporary office secretariat at the National Stadium in Abuja fully furnished, our website has just been launched.

“We are thinking and working everyday to see how we can make our association respond to the challenges of the time. We are seeking new ways and partnerships to make the association stronger and better.

“My desire is for us to have a united association, where everybody feel belong. There is no need to create any group that makes others look less important. We are all important in the business of promoting and encouraging sports development across Nigeria,” he said.

Sirawoo thanked the federal government, the National Assembly, state governments, particularly the Rivers State Government, the Nigeria Olympic Committee, sports federations, particularly the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and others for their support and confidence reposed in the association.

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