AFN targets new talents as Okowa awards U.S. scholarships to 16 athletes
• Organisers assure of hitch-free competition
Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) President, Tonobok Okowa, says the sixth National Youth Games holding in Ilorin will serve as fresh talent recruitment ground for the federation.
Defending champions, Team Delta, arrived Ilorin with a contingent of over 750 athletes and officials on Sunday.
Okowa, who is the chairman of Delta State Sport’s Commission, told The Guardian that the athletes were ready to defend their title.
A praise and worship session was held for the team on Saturday evening at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, where the Secretary to the state government, Patrick Ukah, who represented Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, urged the athletes to do everything possible to defend their title.
He said: “As soon as athletics event starts, I will shift my attention to track and field because the AFN will use the National Youth Games to recruit athletes who will step into the shoes of some ageing ones. As for Team Delta, we have worked very had for this games, and I am sure we will emerge victorious again. The state government has given us the support we need, and we are very grateful to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the entire executive council.”
Okowa revealed that 11 of the young athletes discovered at the 2019 edition of the National Youth Games were given academic scholarship by the state government to combine their education with sports in the U.S last year, adding that four others have just joined them.
He said, “when we discover young athletes, we keep them and nurture them,” Okowa stated.
Meanwhile, organisers of the youth games have assured participants of a hitch-free event, saying the minor hitches recorded on the opening day have been taken care of.
Team Edo contingent, yesterday, complained that they were left outside the hostels provided for the teams, adding that there were no official to attend to them.
Team Edo leader, Sabina Amiemenoghena Chikere, said she had to make alternative private hostel accommodation for the women athletes and questioned why the LOC will fix a tournament of this magnitude when students of the University of Ilorin were still writing their examinations.
However, an official of the LOC, who pleaded anonymity, told The Guardian that the hiccups experienced by Edo is a minute problem that has been sorted out, adding that such problems usually occur on arrival days in multi-sport events.
He said: “Most schools are in session. It makes hostel accommodation for many states difficult. But we have moved the affected states to polytechnic hostels around the state capital. Edo is not the only state affected.
“We are satisfied with the level of preparedness of University of Ilorin ahead of the competition and members of the Sports Directors’ forum have also expressed their delight at the arrangements in place for the games.”
Also, the LOC has announced a slight adjustment to the time line of the competition with the opening ceremony initially scheduled for tomorrow now moved to Thursday.