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FCT laments ‘defection’ of athletes

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Team Delta during the opening ceremony of the 19th National Sports Festival in Abuja. Delta has the highest number of contingent of 585 athletes at the Games

Even before the start of events at the 19th National Sports Festival, some officials of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have ruled out the possibility of the Terrirory being a top contender on the medals table, blaming huge loss of top athletes to higher bidding states.

The coaches said late release of fund and poor remuneration largely contributed to the loss of the top athletes to other states.

It was understood that the FCT, which is presenting 358 athletes to compete in 27 events, is offering athletes the sum of N30,000 for a month, and some other states offered N80,000 per month and paid upfront for a period of one year.

One of the officials said the athletes declined to return to the FCT training camp even after fund was released.

Lamenting, one of the officials said late release of fund contributed to the defection of the athletes after much effort had been put to shape them to medal potentials in their respective sports.

The Guardian gathered that the FCT athletes resumed closed camping just last Thursday for the sports festival.

Meanwhile, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung on Thursday held officials and sports enthusiasts for several hours under the scorching sun at Abuja City Gate before he came to receive the Torch of Unity for the Sports Festival.

The event scheduled for 10.00am did not start until 2.20pm, as the people waited for Dalung to arrive.

Before Dalung’s arrival at 2.20pm, the FCT Minister, Mallam Muhammad Musa Bello had arrived, but decided to remain in his air-conditioned jeep where officials thronged to pay homage.

Even policemen drafted to the City Gate were unhappy with the long wait for the Torch of Unity.

The Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) Permanent Secretary, Christian Chineyeaka Ohaa received the Torch before handing it to Mallam Bello, who in turn passed it to Dalung. The sports minister later handed the Torch to Abdul Yahaya, a basketball player with the FCT.

According to Dalung, two states have indicated interest to host the next edition of the sports festival.


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