The Kogi State Commissioner for Sports, Prince Salisu Sani, has declared that the state is ready to host the national senior men’s football team, Super Eagles, in any international game. He also tell Olawale Ayeni of his commitment to sports development in the state.
What is the state of sports development in Kogi State presently?
I assumed the post of Commissioner Youth and Sports Ministry in January 2018, I was formerly in transportation before the governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, redeployed me to youth and sports.
I met the sports sector in a state which the governor wasn’t pleased and I can tell you we are not yet where we want to be but we are not where we used to be, there is progressive movement from where we used to be to where you want to be.
We have done so much in all areas of sports especially in football, handball basketball; we have received so many medals, accolades and praises from within and outside the state.
We have lined up 200 contingents to compete at the 2019 edition of the National Youth Games in Kwara state, so we are doing great.
Speaking about the National Youth Games What should Nigerians expect from Team Kogi?
After intensive preparation, Nigerians should expect the best from Team Kogi because we have lined up the best of the best in all the sporting events we will be participating in, am sure that at the end of the competition the athletes will make the state proud.
What are the efforts the Kogi State Government has put in place to develop grassroots sports in the state?
In the coming months, once we come back from the national youth games, we will be starting our state sports festival, which will cut across the 21 local government areas in the state in which they will be competing in 15 different sporting events.
We are actually targeting grassroots sports development, and various local government area chairmen are working hard to give the required support for sports in their areas.
What are the plans to improve athletes’ welfare?
Before I came on board, our athletes did not receive allowances from the state government, in order to encourage them to put in their best, we have ensured that we put in place all that will make them put in their best which we want from them, and Alhaji Yahaya Bello the executive governor who is not just the youngest governor but a sports loving governor has promised to provide us with whatever is needed to encourage the athletes and we are doing the best we can.
Kogi state is multitalented in many areas, there is no state in Nigeria that you will not find Kogites that are developing their sports sector, Kogi does not just stand as a confluence state where two rivers meet but also a confluence of opportunities and talents.
If reappointed as the next sports commissioner of the state what areas have you mapped out for improvement?
My major focus will be football and handball and also ensure that other sports are also promoted and feel the wave of development.
Does Kogi state have what it takes to host the Super Eagles in international matches?
We are ready and we also have all that it takes to bring the Super Eagles to play in Kogi state and we are working towards that, we have one of the biggest stadia in northern Nigeria and governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello has given us the go ahead to put the stadium in order as regards total renovation.
What are the efforts to make sure Kogi United returns to the Nigeria professional football league?
The festival we are staging in a few weeks is to get the best of the best across the local government because this time around we want to rely on our indigenous players to give us what we want, we will give Kogi United all the support they need to stage a comeback and remain in the Nigerian top flight league.
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