The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has charged the Nigerian team at the 2020 Para-Powerlifting World Cup in Abuja to focus on making the country proud by winning laurels for the country,even as he urged them to avoid distractions.
According to the Special Adviser, Media to the Minister, John Joshua- Akanji , Dare, made the clarion call yesterday when he visited the team’s camp at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
The Minister restated his commitment to athletes’ welfare, assuring them that he would not allow the politics of sports to hinder him from giving them the best government can offer.
Dare said he was not unaware of the immediate and remote challenges facing Nigerian athletes, promising to shield them from negative effects.
“Without athletes, there is no Sports. So their welfare is of paramount importance to me and the country”
Mr. Dare explained the ministry’s ‘Adopt-an-Athelete’ programme, which he said is designed to connect individual athletes to corporate institutions and private individuals for sponsorship of the athletes’ training.
“Once the link is done, you will be connected to the person or company and the money comes directly to you. It doesn’t come to the ministry or anyone else,” he said.
“The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports has a responsibility to you and no Sport Federation or President of any Federation is bigger than the ministry or the country.” Joshua-Akanji quoted the Minister as saying.
He added: “The ministry takes the lead and that has been the rule. I am not going to change it. The ministry is the government and we have your best interests at heart. No matter what happens ultimately the ministry is responsible for you.
“I want to thank you sincerely for your service and sacrifice. Whatever has happened, let’s put it all behind us and make Nigeria proud.”
He promised that bonuses will be paid for qualifying to represent Nigeria and for winning medals.
The minister assured the athletes that the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics promises to be the best in Nigeria’s history.
“For the first time, we are directly supporting and working on the welfare of the athletes because they are the most important element in sports.
If I have to reduce the number of those that will travel from the ministry to get extra money to support the athletes, I will do it because you are the most important stakeholders. So, keep your eyes on the goal. Whatever happens, let us on this side deal with it.”
The Para-Powerlifting World Cup begins today in Abuja with Nigeria presenting two teams in the senior and junior categories.
The Nigerian teams parade many world record holders who are expected to excel by winning many medals.