President of the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA), Professor Stephen Hamafyelto says he is in the process of creating multiple streams of funding for the association in order to ensure it delivers on his vision to create a vibrant collegiate sports system which will be the fulcrum of developing sporting talent in Nigeria.
Professor Hamafyelto spoke to busybuddiesng.com on the sidelines of Wednesday’s launch of the second edition of the Higher Institution Football League (HiFL) which he described as “highly important” to NUGA as it affords the association “an opportunity to expose talents we have in the Universities.”
The professor of sports psychology said the partnership with the organisers of the HiFL was in line with the association’s mandate to “to train and develop [athletes] to a level where we can turn them out to the nation so that the federation’s coaches can take them from there and develop them for international competitions.”
Professor Hamafyelto who is also the Director of Sports at the University of Maiduguri told busybuddiesng.com that for sports to thrive in Nigeria, the country must “look inwards” to the over two million students in its university system otherwise “we are going to miss it as a nation”. Citing the example of the United States of America, Professor Hamafyelto said the country’s collegiate sports system under the auspices of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a major reason “America is achieving what they are achieving in sports today” and revealed that his vision is to replicate such success in Nigeria with NUGA by developing “athletes that already have character and are also good in learning”.
“What I want to see NUGA become is an outfit that can produce athletes for Nigeria not to go under the bridge and get athletes that will represent this country but to produce our athletes right from the university system so you have athletes that already have character and are also good in learning,” he said
As means of achieving his goal, Professor Hamafyelto says he wants to increase the pool of funds available to NUGA such that it rivals Nigeria’s richest sports federation – the Nigeria Football Federation.
“What I am doing now is to persuade the universities to put more funds into the sports coffers,” he told busybuddiesng.com, “So far now every Nigerian University student is paying N200 to NUGA apart from the N100,000 that is given by every University.
“Every student in Nigerian University is paying 200 and when you look at the population of students in [the University of Lagos] you can see the amount of money [when] you multiply it by N200. The University of Maiduguri has 30,000 students [and] we are almost generating six million naira from that. So when you put six million, for goodness sake [NUGA] is richer than all the federations apart from the NFF and that is the only way we can grow.”
He also revealed that NUGA is open to partnering with any private sector actor interested in any of the sixteen University sports under their control not covered by their exclusive five-year deal with the organisers of the HiFL.