Five years after winning Eko 2012 National Sports Festival in Lagos, Delta State athletes and their officials have been waiting for another opportunity to showcase their skills. It will come Monday, as the sixth Delta Sports Festival begins at the 14,000-capacity Ozoro Polytechnic Stadium.
The festival, which will run till May 12, will be held at four different venues spread across the state, Asaba, Agbor, Obiaruku and Ozoro. The opening and closing ceremonies will hold at the newly commissioned Ozoro Polytechnic ultra-modern Sports Stadium.
Speaking ahead of Mondayâ€™s opening ceremony, the head of Delta State weightlifting team, ex-Olympian, Coach Emmanuel Oshoma, said that the festival is a major boost to both the athletes and their officials.
â€œThe athletes are so happy with the state government for this sports festival because since we returned from Eko 2012 National Sports Festival, some of the athletes have not participated in any sporting events. For instance, my event (weightlifting) has not witnessed any competition, but with this sports festival, the athletes are excited competing for medals again.
â€œSome of them who have been competing only at the local government level, this is an opportunity for them to show their skills at the state level. They are also looking forward to pocket some allowances at the end of the festival,â€ Oshoma stated.
Some of the athletes who also spoke on Sunday on arrival at Ozoro expressed joy over the high standard of sporting facilities at the venue.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is expected to declare the festival open later Monday, while Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, will be the special guest of honour among other dignitaries and sports enthusiasts that will grace the occasion.
While Ozoro will play host to track and field as well as football event, Obiaruku will host the swimming event. The Agbor Township Stadium will host cycling event, while Asaba, the state capital, will be the venue for other events like weightlifting, wrestling, table tennis, volleyball, basketball, squash and tennis.
Delta Sports Commission Chairman Tony Okowa and Commissioner for Information Patrick Ukah, who is a member of the Main Organising Committee, said on Sunday that the festival would afford the state the avenue to put in place a strong team for the defence of its title later this year when the National Sports Festival holds.