Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi
The policy statement by the Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi to open the National Sports Festival (NSF) has received the backing of Delta and Ekiti states.
According to the Chairman of Delta Sports Commission, Amaju Pinnick, the decision is long overdue as this would bring glamour to the sports fiesta.
"This is what I have championed for years that the festival should be thrown open for top athletes to represent their state of origins. You can imagine athletes like Blessing Okagbare, Damola Osayomi and Ajoke Odumosu taking part in the festival. Fans will surely be drawn to the stadium and this will also afford the young athletes to rub shoulders with the top athletes and such budding athletes will surely be integrated into the senior team," Pinnick observed.
Pinnick also threw his weight behind the idea of staging an Under-17 Youth Games, which he said would give young athletes opportunity to compete amongst themselves before progressing to the senior level.
Ekiti State Commissioner for Sports, Folorunsho Olabode, also described the decision as a good omen for the country as it would encourage states to develop their athletes.
Olabode said: "I want to say this is a decision that should be encouraged and I hope this will surely bring lot of glamour to the festival. I am particular in support of the idea with the staging of the U-17 Youth Games that will take care of the young athletes because we used to have the National School Sports Fiesta which will also help the young athletes as well. For me the decision is welcome and we will surely meet at another forum with the Sports Minister in January to iron it out."
The NSC boss made the declaration that the NSF would be made opened to allow elite athletes to participate in the sports fiesta, while an U-17 National Youth Games would be organised with discovered athletes integrated into an elite programme.