The Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Selcap Dalung has promised to assist the Akwa Ibom state government in securing support for some of its grassroots sports and youth development programs.
Dalung made the pledge when he paid a courtesy visit on Governor Udom Emmanuel at the government house, Uyo.
The Minister who was in Uyo for the opening ceremony of the maiden Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival promised to use the goodwill of the Ministry to facilitate sponsorship for programs that will be of benefit to youths in the state.
“We will partner and collaborate with you. We will engage the state government at different levels even if it involves mustering our goodwill to secure sponsorship for some of the sporting and youth development programs.”
The Minister also commended Gov Udom for his ingenuity in organizing a sports festival targeted at young athletes.
He noted that the National Youth Games which has been the national platform upon which young talents are harvested will continue to serve as a template for grassroots sports development.
“Replicating the National Youth Games at the state level is quite uncommon and that is why today’s event is historic. We have state sports festivals but we have not made conscious efforts in grassroots development like the Youth Sports Festival which we are witnessing here today in Uyo” Dalung said.
Responding, the Governor said that the Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival will be an annual event. The governor said his administration had made a pledge to set up a sports centre in all the federal constituencies that will be open to every promising child and urged the Minister to support the project.
“The tartan tracks will be laid there including everything to take care of track and field events, basketball and volleyball courts, lawn tennis and other sports facilities will be provided. The reason is very simple; we are starting a seven year development plan. It’s a medium term plan and I drew this from what is happening around the world. You can see some powerful footballing nations in the world. When they missed their position, they had to go back to reappraise their processes. This is also what we are doing .
“We want to see how we can build up. Give us till the next two Olympics. The athletes that will compete for Nigeria may come from Akwa Ibom. With a population of over six million people, we should be able to take charge of a few athletes on behalf of the country “, the governor said.
Over 6,000 athletes in primary and secondary schools from the 31 local government councils in the state are taking part in the 5-day festival aimed at discovering new talents, grooming them and ensuring that the state becomes a new hub of Champions in a few years through a dedicated long term program.
NNEKA IKEM ANIBEZE
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