By Michael Egbejule
Benin City — Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung has called on state governors to change their attitude towards Nigeria’s sport development by making adequate budgetary provisions for the sector.
He said the experiences of some sport directors during the 19th National Sports Festival in Abuja was very pathetic as most of them had to travel to Abuja with the hope that funds would be made avoidable, but in the end had to organise emergency fund raising before they could participate in the tournament.
Speaking yesterday in Benin during the extraordinary meeting of the National Council on Sports, Dalung said: “I am still going back to the National Economic Council to address the governors on sports development in the country. If you brought high blood pressure testing machine here, most of the sport directors would test positive not because of their personal problem but because they usually don’t have money to take care of their athletes during competitions.
“During the Abuja National Sports Festival, a sports director, who came with a contingent to compete in women sport, did not have money for accommodation. They slept under the staircase of the stadium, but the team eventually won bronze.”
Reviewing his tenure as Nigeria’s sports minister, Dalung said the country has won over 700 medals in various sporting activities in the last three and half years of his stewardship.
Also speaking at the event, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki said his administration puts premium in sport development to boost youth engagement and drive the economy.
Obaseki, who noted that the state government in its commitment to promote sports development, has commenced the building of mini-stadia across the 18 local councils in realisation that there could not be improvement in sport without necessary facilities.
At the extraordinary meeting, the National Council on Sports agreed that a maximum of 32 sports shall feature at the Festival (27 compulsory and five optional) in line with practices obtainable in the organisation of major International Games like the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games and Continental Games, among others.
It disclosed that the 36 compulsory sports were selected based on popularity of the sport in the 36 states and FCT, states entries in the sport in previous festivals and Nigeria’s performance in the sport at the international level.
The compulsory sports are athletics, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, chess, cycling, football, gymnastics, handball and hockey.
Others are judo, karate, kickboxing, kung fu, para-athletics, para- powerlifting, para-table tennis, scrabble, squash, swimming, table tennis, tennis, taekwondo, volleyball (Indoor), weightlifting and wrestling.
The optional sports listed by the council are amputee football, canoeing, cricket, darts, deaf sports (male and female sprint event in Athletics), Fives, golf, para shooting, para-soccer, para swimming, para-taekwondo and rowing.
Also in the list of optional sports are rugby, sailing, shooting, sitting volleyball, traditional boxing (Dambe), traditional sport (Abula), traditional sport (Ayo), traditional sport (Langa), traditional Wrestling (Kokawa), wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis and yachting.