The News Agency of Nigeria reports that they made the call at a summer sporting programme titled “Awaken the Giant, She Can 3.0.”
It is a free three weeks Summer Table-Tennis and Mentorship Clinic for girls which was kicked-off at the Knock-up Hall, National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.
The speakers drew their various submissions for more active participation of females in sports from the recent stellar performances of the Nigeria’s female athletes at the just-concluded 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The National Coordinator, APSE, Oluwaseun Nariwoh said that the programme would be a transformational project to launch out to the female gender and arouse more of their interest in sports.
“It is not by accident that we are having this three weeks table-tennis and mentorship clinic at a time like this.
“It is a wake up call and reassurance that the female gender is a powerful force and there is a need to inspire, create, engage and transform the girl child into a strong woman to have a sustainable better world.
“We need to equip them with necessary skills and competencies to be self reliant while making informed decisions as at when due towards nation building.
“Sports inspires hope where there seems to be none, and I am a living witness.
Therefore, I am more committed to making Table-tennis accessible to girl child,” she said.
Nariwoh, a former table-tennis player and administrator said she was willing to mentor more young girls who would better her record.
“We are on a mission to inspire positively, engage, redress gender inequality, build confidence, leadership skills and transform the girl child so that she can contribute more to the society.
“We will also do a follow-up programme to ensure the sustenance of this programme in having succession plan for the older female athletes in Nigeria,” she said.
The Director of Sports, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), Moses Kolawole noted that the state had been in the forefront of encouraging female athletes and was ready to explore more encouraging windows.
“We have been the leading figure as a state when it comes to supporting our female athletes and this has been exemplified severally in international competitions and most recently, the Commonwealth Games.
“Lagos-based female athletes have won several medals in international competitions, and this is giving us more encouragements that as we are doing well, and we want to do more.
“The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration is keen on making sports accessible to all through his various intervention programmes in infrastructure and personnel.
“We will continue to work more and support projects like this aimed at encouraging female participation in sports,” he said.
Another Speaker, Bose Joseph, Convener, Lagos-Made Women Organisation (LAMWO), said that the training of girls in sports should start early to ward off their distraction from sporting activities.
“I am happy because we are gradually getting it right in Nigeria as our women are getting necessary traction in sporting world.
“The programme is a good initiative coming at the right time from a veteran sports administrator.
This is not just a sports programme, but an all-inclusive educational support programmes as well.
“Nigeria is blessed with potential who are females and we can see that in the just-concluded 2022 Commonwealth Games, especially the Lagos-based female athletes that won gold.
“Going forward, we need more parents to release their female children to engage in sports and grow in it early enough as this will help to ward-off distractions especially as the are reaching age of puberty,” she said.
The All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for House of Assembly, Lagos Mainland Constituency 2, Rasheed Shabi, however, said that the focus should not be placed only on female, but an all-inclusive sports programme for the children.
“ The focus should not be only on the female children but every child must be given same opportunity to grow in sports.
“Sports will keep our children busy and away from crimes and we should encourage them especially at their leisure time.
“We should make sure that their education is well taken care of and their involvements in sporting activities as well,” he said.