Senator Teslim Kolawole Folarin needs no introduction when it comes to politics in Oyo State and in Nigeria. He is the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the April 11 gubernatorial poll in the pace setter state. In one of the way to show his interest for sport, the outgoing senate leader, sponsored the seventh Splash FM Integrity Marathon race held recently at the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium Ibadan. The event, as expected was witnessed by an appreciable number of sport journalists who took advantage of the occasion to engage the soft spoken politician on numerous issues regarding sport in the state. WESTERN POST’s Tosin Omojola was there and brings excerpts from the interview
What informed your decision to sponsor this year’s Splash FM Marathon race?
I have always believed in sport. Sport, besides being recreational, could also be big business if you plan very well. When I was in the University of Ibadan here, I was the captain of the football team, know Sports can help you. So sponsoring an event like this is my own little way of contributing to the development of sport in the state.
What plans do you have for sport in the state if you eventually emerge the Oyo State Governor?
We have big plan for sport just like I said, Sport is a big business. In some of the sprints races held in the course of this marathon, I saw one or two lads who have potentials and I believe we can nurture them from here to become future stars. Our government would look into ways of organizing events in different sports, not only football from where talents would be discovered and nurtured them to greatness.
How would you assess the present state of Sports in Oyo State?
It is very, very disappointing because in football for instance, the benchmark has always been how the Shooting Stars are doing but the club in recent time have not been doing well, going up and going down. I think we need to encourage companies here in Oyo State, Ibadan in particular as part of their corporate social responsibilities to invest in sport and we intend to do that.
Is the sponsorship of the marathon race a policy statement that Sport is going to be one of your government’s priorities?
Absolutely, we have always being saying it. You know we have a lot of unemployed youth in the state and one legacy we want to leave behind,( because if you get into government one day, you have to leave one day) is to ensure that people will remember us for tackling youth unemployment. In this regard, apart from helping them to set up businesses, apart from using agric, you can use sport because it is a profession, we need discover talent and help them to develop to professional status, I promise, we will do that.
How do you plan to achieve your goal considering the present state of things?
The problem is that we leave everything to the government, we rely on the government to do everything and that is not possible. It is a great problem. We need to get the private companies to see the benefit of investing in sport.
What do you think about the present position of 3SC and Crown FC
It is not good enough. For a club like 3SC to be coming up and going down is very disappointing. The club is supposed to be in the premier league challenging to be champions and not struggling to stay afloat. 3SC is a big club with large followership not only in Ibadan or Oyo State but in the whole country and even beyond.
How would you describe your experience being part of the 2015 edition of the marathon race?
It was a great experience. I feel very great it has been a day out, very relaxing from the campaign train. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so much to the extent that I told them to go and bring my son to come and be part of it. Every bit of it was very interesting.
And do we expect you to sponsor the marathon race subsequently?
Sure, I hope to continue to sponsor the event subsequently.
If you eventually become the governor of Oyo State, how do you ensure grass root development for sport?
It is very simple we need to go back to what it used to be in those days. I remember when we were in school. There were so many competitions like the Principal’s Cup, Inter House Sport and the rest. All we need to do is to go back and revive them. We had them over the years but they just died. We plan to bring them back to life and we will.