The 4th annual National Youth Games (NYG) gets underway today at the Sports Complex of the University of Ilorin with 32 out 36 states of the federation including FCT vying for honour.
Director Grassroots Sports Development, Dr Demola Are, who disclosed this in a press statement made available to LEARDERSHIP Sports, yesterday, said the 32 states will be taking part in 33 sports during the 10-day event which has continued to grow in leaps and bounds since its inaugural edition held in Abuja, five years ago.
Are whose department is solely responsible for grassroots sports development in the country, said the objectives of the games have been fruitful.
“We are happy with the progress made so far in ensuring that for the 4th year in a row, we have continued to organise the National Youth Games which is a vital aspect of unearthing talents.”
He reemphasized that in line with the dreams of the founding fathers of the NYG, athletes identified during the competition will be developed and nurtured for future national and international competitions.
“Those who were discovered in previous games represented Nigeria at the last Africa Youth Games which served as qualifiers for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
“Many of these athletes who were discovered 3 to 4 years ago will be representing Nigeria in next month’s Youth Olympic Games which for us is a major milestone.”
As the competition expands with more states showing interest, Roller skating will be having its third demonstration during the games before they can be officially admitted to the games which is also featuring Lagos State for the first time.
“For all these athletes, our target is the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo. At least we should be able to see some products of the National Youth Games from different federations in Tokyo. By then, we should be able to really judge how far we have gone.”
Quizzed over the poor sanitation conditions that prevails in most of the hostels where the athletes and officials are hosted, he said, measures have been put in place to improve the sanitary conditions in and around the hostels.
The technical director, Kano state Sports Commission, comrade, Bashari Maizare, confirmed that there were sanitary challenges in the hostels at the games even as he declared Team Kano were not affected, because the state provided its athletes sanitary materials. “We provided our athletes with insecticides, mosquito nets and we are very vigilant.” Maizare stated.
The opening ceremony of the National Youth Games which provides a level playing field for young athletes under the ages of 15 is expected to have former Directors-General of NSC including Dr. Amos Adamu, Dr Patrick Ekeji, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, and Alhassan Yakmut in attendance. The competition runs from September 7 to 17, 2018.