Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Chairman of the Cross River State Sports Commission, Otuekong Orok Duke, has said that youths in Nigeria should not be made to take to sports as a means of escaping from poverty.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the State’s Sports Commission Football Clinic at the U. J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar yesterday, Duke said instead, government and the private sector should invest massively in sports to get the youths engaged and involved in sporting activities that would transform them to productive members of the society.
He said it should rather be as a result of having the innate skills for such sports as well as the desire to express it.
Duke also said sports is universal, bringing people together and keeping the body and soul healthy.
“We should move away from the notion that poverty fires sports. This is something the government should step in and take over and not to allow sports in Nigeria to be driven by poverty,” Duke said.
Lamenting the underfunding of sporting activities in the state, Duke said: “we do not have enough funds to run sports as in the last five years and we have not been able to attend any sports festival.”
Duke, however, assured sports stakeholders that the state will do well at the next youths sports festival coming up in Ilorin next month.
“Whether the state government sponsors or not, we will go and we will not take excuses again. We are bent on attending the youth’s sports festival in September in Ilorin and the National Sports festival in Abuja in December which we could not host. We will go out and solicit for funds,” he said.
The football clinic was kicked-off by the member representing Calabar/Odukpani Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Mr. Eta Mbora.
Duke lauded Mbora; the member representing Akpabuyo/Bakassi/Calabar South Federal Constituency, Pastor Essien Ayi; Royal Farms, and others for sponsoring the football clinic, saying this will encourage youths to take active part in sports and take them away from social vices.
He said the UJ. Esuene Stadium, which usually attracts over N500, 000 to hire, is now free for all schools in the state to come and use but must keep the place clean after usage.
He said by so doing the popular primary and secondary school games will come back to life and future sports men and women will be discovered.
The clinic, which attracted over 250 children aged between 6 and 12 years, is expected to last for two weeks.