Edo athletes weep as team misses National Youth Games again
Many over-aged athletes disqualified
For the fourth time in a row, Edo State young athletes are not taking part in the National Youth Games, which fourth edition began yesterday in Ilorin. The opening ceremony of the Games, which provides a level playing field for young athletes under the ages of 15, took place yesterday at the Sports Complex of the University of Ilorin. It will end on September 17.
The Guardian learnt that Team Edo was missing for the fourth time at the Games, a development that has thrown the athletes into confusion.A chairman of one of the state’s sports associations told The Guardian yesterday that some of the athletes broke down in tears on hearing that they would not go to Ilorin. “The Government is not being fair to these young athletes because denying them the opportunity to take part in the Games is like killing their career. They have been preparing for the past few months, and now their hopes have been dashed. It is really sad,” the official said.
Another official, however, stated that the chairman of Edo State Cricket Association has decided to sponsor his team to the Games.Contacted yesterday, former sports commissioner in Edo State and board member of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Brown Ebewele said: “I was told initially that Edo State will take part this year, but as at this morning, the athletes are still in Benin City. It means they are not taking part at the Games.”Edo State did not take part in the South-South zonal eliminations for the NYG last month in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
A total of 32 states, including defending champions, Delta State, took part in yesterday’s opening ceremony. This year’s NYG will involve 33 sports.Team Lagos is making its first appearance at the NYG since the competition came into existence four years ago. The Chairman of Lagos Sports Commission, Kweku Tandor told The Guardian yesterday that the state would take part in 25 sports, but added that their aim is not to win the Games but use it as an avenue to give the young athletes the exposure they need to excel in their various sports.
“We are taking part in the NYG for the first time, and it won’t really matter to us if we failed to finish on top of the medals’ table. It is more about developing our athletes and giving them the exposure they need to excel. Some of these athletes may also represent us at the main National Sports Festival later this year. My athletes and their officials are already in Ilorin, and I will team up with them on Wednesday. It is good we are taking part this time around,” Tandor stated.This year’s NYG has witnessed the highest number of athletes screened out on account of being over-aged, according to one official yesterday. The NYG is an initiative of the sports minister, Solomon Dalung, when he assumed office.