Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
No fewer than 250 Nigerian athletes are currently sweating it out for the 2018 African Youth Games (AYG) scheduled to hold from July 18 to 28 in Algiers, Algeria.
Director, Grassroots Sports Development of the Ministry of Sports, Ademola Are, made the disclosure in Abuja yesterday while briefing members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) FCT chapter on the country’s preparation for the Games.
Are further revealed that athletes participating in 18 sports out of the 23 for the country were already in their various camps in four states, listing the states as Lagos, Kaduna, Bayelsa, Plateau and the FCT.
“We took part in the first edition of the AYG in Morocco and we did very well. The same thing in Gaborone, Botswana, in the second edition where we came third with only 13 sports.
“But in this third edition, we want to ensure we have full representation with 23 sports at the Games to give Nigerian youths the opportunity to be part of the age group competition.
“It will help Nigeria fight for the topmost position realising that most of these countries that did better than us in the first and second editions of the games are engaged in multi-medal winning sports.
“So, we want to be fully represented and get the best out of the games especially podium successes,” Are said.
He also applauded the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari in ensuring that Nigeria participated in every international competition through the release of intervention funds.
He noted that the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Barr Solomon Dalung, had requested for another presidential intervention for funding of the Games through the ministry of finance.
“If you look at what Mr President has been doing to us, he has been magnanimous enough in providing intervention fund for all our programmes because ordinary allocation cannot do it for us.
“We appreciate Mr President for approving funds for Nigeria’s participation in sports events. Without adequate and prompt release of this funds we will not be able to prepare effectively, but so far we are doing all we can and the children are doing what they should do,” he said.