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Edo coaches, government trade blame over absence from National Youth Games

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Edo State government has given reasons why it decided to stay away from the just concluded third National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara State capital.

At the beginning of Governor Godwin Obaseki’s administration, he promised to give Edo State’s athletes, particularly the younger ones, the platform to harness their potential through sports.

The governor at the weekend doled out N5 million to players and officials of the national U-20 women’s football team, Falconets, for beating Tanzania, a country considered to be ‘outsiders’ in women football.

Some coaches in Edo State, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, put the blame of the state’s failure to attend the National Youth Games in Ilorin on the doorsteps of Governor Obaseki, who they accused of failing to release funds for the trip.

“The coaches played their part by preparing the athletes for the Youth Games in Ilorin only for the government to say there was no fund for the competition. It is so sad that Edo State youths could not participate in the National Youth Games due to lack of fund, yet the government was able to splash N5 million on the Falconets for beating a ‘mere’ Tanzania team. It is really worrisome,” one of the coaches stated.

Another coach added that the failure to attend the Youth Games in Ilorin would have a massive effect in Edo State sports for as long time. “This is not good for this government and we must say the truth.”

However, the state’s Commissioner for Youths and Special Duties, Mika Emanokha explained in a chat with The Guardian yesterday that Edo State decided not to participate in the National Youth Games because “the present government in Edo State is not looking at participating in a games just for the sake of participation. What we are doing is planning and re-positioning for the feature. Besides, the National Youth Games in Ilorin came in the middle of our re-positioning, and we don’t want a situation whereby we go to other states to poach athletes. That is not in our character,” he stated.

“Anybody saying that failure to release fund was the reason for our non-participation at the National Youth Games is not telling you the truth.” he added.

Meanwhile, the Director General, Lagos State Sports Commission, Adewunmi Gbolahan Ogunsanya was said to have been removed from office following alleged failure of the state to attend the National Youth Games in Ilorin.

It was learnt that Ogunsanya was removed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode over his alleged failure to take a budget said to have been prepared by the chairman of the Commission, Deji Tinubu for the state’s participation in the Games, to the office of the governor.

Lagos could not participate at the last edition of the games, and the excuse then was that Governor Ambode was not around to approve the money needed.

When The Guardian contacted Ogunsanya yesterday, he declined to comment on it. Rather he said, “I am not in a position to make any comment on Lagos sports activities for now. You can call the Special Adviser to the Governor on Sports.”

Another source in the Lagos Sports Commission said yesterday that Ogunsanya was redeployed to another ministry.



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