Edo’s focus is on Sports Festival, not Youth Games, says Obaseki
Delta hits 20 gold, Bayelsa 14, Lagos 9
Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki yesterday explained why his state has not been part of the National Youth Games (NYG) since it debuted in Ilorin, Kwara State in 2015.
The fourth edition of the NYG began in Ilorin on Monday without a contingent from Edo State. Though some athletes from the state are taking part in the Games under the sponsorship of some individuals, including the president of the Gymnastics Federation of Nigeria, Prince Kelvin Ehizogie, who is from Edo State.
In his brief response to a message by The Guardian, Governor Obaseki said: “We had no plans to participate in the Youth Games. Our focus is on the National Sports Festival.”
After missing the 2015 and 2016 editions of the NYG, some individuals in Edo State decided to sponsor some of the athletes to the 2017 fiesta, where Edo was credited with two silver medals courtesy of the state’s cricket team.
This year, Prince Ehizogie sponsored four gymnasts of the state to Ilorin. The athletes won four gold medals, but they were stripped of the medals when some states’ protested over their eligibility for the games since Edo State did not register a team.
It was however learnt yesterday that the athletes and their counterparts from Ondo State got their medals back after the organisers discovered that they went through due process to register for the Games. There were divided opinion yesterday over Governor Obaseki’s stance on the National Youth Games. While some analysts feel that every state should support the NYG to expose young athletes, others support Governor Obaseki’s stance that resources should be channeled towards the main National Sports Festival, which is now scheduled for December after several postponements since Eko 2012.
Those supporting Obaseki’s stance believe it is a waste of economic resources for a state to fund two different contingents to both the Youth Games and the National Sports Festival same year, when there are other pressing issues confronting the governors.“I think what the sports ministry should do is to revive school sports across the country, and also help the Youth Sports Federation (YSFON) in organizing Youth Games,” the Proprietor of Cable Football Academy, Edwin Onovwotafe told The Guardian yesterday.
Meanwhile, defending champions, Team Delta, has grabbed 20 gold, 16 silver and 9 bronze medals, while Bayelsa is second with 14 gold, 5 silver and 10 bronze. Team Lagos is third with 9 gold, 7 silver and 14 bronze medals.
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