The development of sport cannot be complete without an understanding of the role of youths in the total process. This is so because the potential of sport as a vehicle for national cohesion and development cannot be over emphasized.
In Plateau state, we are blessed with talented youths in the field of sport, however, these youths require a commitment from the government and other stakeholders within the sports sector to enable them develop their God-given potentials to the fullest.
For the government and people of Plateau State, September 9, 2017 is a day that will be registered in the sands of time as nothing can compare to the joy in Jos, Plateau State, after a fairy tale run over 38 matches culminated in their darling Plateau United being crowned 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League champions, a first in the club’s history.
An excited capacity crowd including Governor of the state, Mr Simon Lalong (who is totally committed to the development of Youths and Sports as part of his Rescue campaign promise) converged at the Rwang Pam Stadium on Saturday to witness the scene that factually featured a baton exchange, considering that Plateau United’s opponents on the day were Rangers International (the outgone champions). And the much anticipated day saw the Lalong Boys confirming their new status with a 2-0 win over their visitors.
Like the case of Leicester City in the English Premier League two seasons ago, the odds were heavily against Plateau United at the start of this season, but the believe the Governor had in his boys was so strong that he dedicated his time and energy in motivating the team from the start of the season to the very last day despite the fact that Plateau United had only returned to the NPFL last season.
Really, who would have thought them contenders? Instead, they were outright underdogs such that even when they were on top of the table by the halfway stage, very few tipped them for the title.
However, Plateau United proved their doubters wrong by maintaining their top spot for the whole of the second half of the season, having the best home and away record; scoring the most number of goals and conceding the least.
The government of Plateau State led by Mr Simon Bako Lalong did not lose sight of the potential of sport as a vehicle for addressing unemployment among Plateau youths, the Governor who knew that sports, when properly organized and managed, can serve as an economic catalyst for the state on assumption of office gave his total support for the development of youths and sports.
His commitment to see the state owned Plateau United succeed in the Nigerian Professional Football League was second to none and after 38 matches played across the nation, one can say that the long awaited trophy has finally come home.
Next season, Plateau United will feature in the lucrative CAF Champions League for the first time.
Mpaka Numbere writes from Plateau State.