Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Friday formally signed the Protocol Agreement for the State to host the 18th Edition of the National Sports Festival with a declaration that the State would return the Festival to its original objective of throwing up new generation of sports men and women annually.
Addressing an audience of National and State Sports administrators and enthusiasts as well as members of the State Executive Council shortly before signing the agreement at the Banquet Hall of the Lagos House, Ikeja, Governor Fashola regretted that the Festival has over the years fallen short of its real objectives adding that the 18th Edition would provide an opportunity for the State to make a change.
“What is important to us is to use this 18th Festival, the home-coming festival, as an opportunity to discover and unleash for this country a new generation of athletes. The festival is all about amateur sports from which we move to professional sports. When, therefore, we have athletes participating in five to six festivals consecutively, something is wrong. It means that we have developed a cadre of amateur professionals,” the Governor said.
Pointing out that this is not what the Festival is meant for, Governor Fashola declared, “We will champion the cause to ensure that the festival is returned to its original objective starting from this 18th edition. That is why we spent the last three years developing our grassroots sports to ensure that young boys and girls who are in our schools, whose records we have, whose parents we know, whose origin we know, are the candidates that we put forward at the last two festivals that Lagos State participated in,” Fashola said.
Lamenting Nigeria’s abysmal performance in sports, he continued: “All of the misfortunes we see across the spectre of our sporting life is not accidental. It is because we have refused to plan and when we forward an ill-prepared team, we expect to win. We have not been honest with ourselves, we have not been honest with our leaders.
“I once listened to a Nigerian contingent promising the President that they were going to bring back seven gold medals when I knew they did not prepare. I knew it was impossible because they did not plan,” he said.