By Elizabeth Henrywilson, Abuja-Nigeria.
The Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh has called on stakeholders in the sporting industry to continue to collaborate with the federal government in its resolve to rid the National Youth Games (NYG) of the age cheat practice.
The Minister who made the call today in Asaba, the Delta State Capital informed that age cheat in the game meant for the discovery and development of budding talents for the country at the grassroots has become a cankerworm which if not completely eliminated was capable of crippling government’s efforts at developing grassroots sports.
“The issue of age cheat in sports is an area in which the Ministry requires the support and collaboration of all stakeholders. On our part, one of the innovations at this year’s edition of the Games is the introduction of the National Identity Number (NIN) as part of the verification process for athletes. Working with other stakeholders, we shall keep improving the process as we move along until we reduce to the barest minimum, the issue of age cheating in sports. We have to get this right as a nation if we hope to achieve sports excellence” he said.
Senator Owan Enoh who stated that the 7th Edition of the National Youth Games is his first major national competition as the Honourable Minister of Sports Development expressed delight that he is starting with a competition that resonates with the grassroots; where the future of our sports development belongs.
While commending Delta State Government for raising the bar in the organisation of the Games, he called on the state to move to the next level. “I implore you to continue to improve as I have been briefed that the next 3 editions would also be staged here in Asaba, Delta State” he added.
The Minister explained that the National Youth Games started over a decade ago as a veritable tool for harnessing the large pool of talents available within the country so as to secure the future of Nigerian sports.
The games according to him was designed as a level-playing ground for young athletes under the aged 15 and below to achieve optimum performance and excellence in sports as well as raising the fitness consciousness and mass participation in sports among the Nigerian youth.
He noted that this year’s edition provides a unique opportunity for us to rewrite the story of our sports in the country as it is coming at a time when we have a President who is interested in the uplifting the sports sector to the next level with the creation of a Ministry solely responsible for sports. “I can assure you that the present leadership of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu shall pay undivided attention to the development of the abundance talents in the nation. We do this not just with an eye on podium performances but for creating a career pathway for our youth and millions of job opportunities in the sports value chain”.
Senator Owan Enoh expressed optimism that the quality of athletes present at the Games are capable of making our country proud anytime, anywhere; and therefore urged all concerned National Sports Federations to take advantage of the Games to evaluate their sports developmental objectives as well as further develop the identified talents to elite levels.
The Minister thanked President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his magnanimity in granting approval for the hosting of the Games.
Senator Owan Enoh also expressed his appreciation to the Government of Delta State and the entire management of Delta State Sports Commission for being a good host of the Games.
He urged participants to see their role in the Games as a stepping stone to greater heights, bearing in mind that there is joy in participation. *Do your best in your respective sports disciplines and compete clean without the use of performance enhancing substances that will eventually ruin your career in sports. I also encourage you to utilize the opportunities provided by the Games to develop enduring friendships and career paths for yourself* he added
Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Sports Development Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar has stated that since its inception over ten years ago, National Youth Games has continued to attain heights in terms of standards, number of athletes, officials, sports as well as states participation.
He informed that the 7th edition of the Games will feature a total of 5,742 athletes from the 36 states of the Federation, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Alhaji Ismaila assured that the Ministry will continue to play its role of creating an environment environment for the development of sports in the country in line with the policy thrust of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Administration.