Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
For emerging the overall winners at the last National Sports Festival in Abuja, Delta State athletes were on Monday rewarded with over N403 million by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for being worthy ambassadors of the state.
Okowa noted that sports have become a window of opportunities and empowerment for young talents the world over and urged youths in Delta State to put their God-given talents to positive use, including sporting activities.
On hand at Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba to honour the athletes who participated in the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival tagged ”Abuja 2018”, were relatives of the athletes as well as the wife of the governor, Dame Edith Okowa, sports and government officials.
Also rewarded were medalists at the 2018 edition of National Youth Games which took place at Ilorin, Kwara State.
Delta State won with 163 gold, 88 silver and 101 bronze, totaling 352 medals at the National Sports Festival, to beat its closest rival, Rivers State, which had 194 medals.
In an address, the governor said, “Today’s event is very special to me, because I have the privilege of being able to fulfill my promise to reward not only the medalists, but everyone who represented our dear State. I therefore wish to reassure our young people, especially those with talents that the State government will continue to encourage sportsmen and women.
“Sports has become a vital tool of empowerment and accomplishment both at the national and international levels and I urge all of you (sports men and women) not to relent; aim at attaining higher standards and glories both for the State and our country.
“Facilities have been made available and they will be continually upgraded to meet the demands of modern training.
”Whatever the state government is offering you today, it is not necessarily payment or compensation for winning laurels for your State. Rather, it is a token of appreciation for your commitment and patriotism while competing for your State.”
The governor also offered Miss Precious Okafor scholarship to the university level for competing and winning medals at the National Youth Games at a time she was mourning the loss of her mother.
National Sports Festival gold medalists got N1 million while silver medalists were given N500, 000. Bronze medalists were also rewarded with N250, 000.
Medalists at the National Youth Games received N100, 000 for gold medals while silver and bronze medalists got N75, 000 and N50, 000.
The team leader, Mr Ifekachukwu Paul, thanked Dr Okowa for keeping his promise of rewarding the athletes with cash gifts, observing that the governor has provided first-class sporting facilities in the state and encouraged the athletes to bring out their best.
He assured the governor that the Team Delta would continue to strive for more laurels in future sporting events.
Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission, Mr Tonobok Okowa, had in an opening address, thanked the governor for inspiring Delta State athletes to victory, noting that Team Delta spends more than two weeks in camp before any competition.