Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The FCT will be represented by a contingent of 82 athletes, officials and medical team to the National Youths Games that commence on Friday in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The athletes will participate in nine of the 12 official events including: athletics, badminton, chess, karate, table tennis, tennis, taekwondo, cricket and wrestling.
In a farewell message to the team, FCT Minister, Bello Musa Mohammed, promised to accordingly reward the athletes that excel at the Games, stressing that the administration would continue to offer support for youth sports development.
“We want you to go there and win medals and that is why we have tried as much as possible to provide you with all that is necessary to make you comfortable here and in Ilorin. So, you should try all your best. You are doing this for yourself, for FCT and for Nigeria. We want to catch you when you are young and we want to make sure that we also motivate you to excel,” he said.
The minister, who was represented by FCT Permanent Secretary, Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, at the occasion, also charged the athletes to use their skill and natural talent rather than depend on drug use to boost their medal winning chances.
“The reliance on and the use of drugs will motivate you today to win but your health will fail tomorrow,” Bello admonished.
He said the FCTA was already working on a blueprint for youth sports development in the Federal Capital Territory in order to catch talent and nurture them at early stage.
Bello reiterated that the plan is to also organise primary school games especially for public schools to be able to discover talents at the grassroots level.
According to him, it is the intention of the FCT Administration to ‘catch them young’ to ensure that the FCT and the country at large develop formidable athletes for international competitions like the Olympic Games.
He, however, warned that all those above the specified age of 17 years should not follow the contingent; stressing that FCT would not spare any athlete found to be cheating.
His words: “This is a youth game and we want our youths to develop, not the 17 years old that has four children. In FCT, we want to be factual. We want to be real. We don’t want to go with cheats”.