Minister of Sports Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi has said that the essence of taking part in age grade competitions is not to win trophies but to discover talented players for future use.
The minister, who stated this at the opening session of a one-day National Open Forum on Youth Development, organized by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) in Abuja, urged junior national team coaches to be committed to discovering talents than focusing on wining trophies at international competitions.
Abdullahi, who blamed the Golden Eaglets' 1985 U-17 World Championship victory for giving Nigerians a wrong perception about participating in under-age competitions, disclosed that he has already informed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) of the Commission's position on the idea of participating in youths competition.
"I think the success of our football team in 1985 created a distortion in our mentality to youth competitions. The U-17 team that won the World Youth Championship in 1985 was celebrated as if we won the World Cup, and whenever we go for under aged competitions, coaches are under pressure to win and we take players who are 20 years and above to such competitions and it is wrong and it has created more problems for us.
"We are having the opportunity to rebuild again and I told the President of the NFF Aminu Maigari and he is on the same page with us on this. I think we should see these competitions as opportunities to discover young people who can be groomed to represent well in the future. I think that should be the goal", said the Abdullahi.