By Salifu Usman, Abuja
The minister of Youth and Sports Development, Chief Sunday Dare, has said the ongoing Edo 2020 National Sports Festival in Benin City has rekindled the hope of the Nigerian youth in a better tomorrow, saying he sees a lot of young people who have future in sports.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday on the side-lines of a wrestling event at the Games, Dare said he is excited about the spirit of sportsmanship and excitement that the Games has brought to Nigerians across the divides, stating that the sporting fiesta dubbed ‘Nigerian Olympics’ showcased a lot talents and skills.
”We are seeing a lot talents and skills on display in the last 10 days. I am watching the wrestling which is one of our real hopes for medals when it come to the Olympics, both the female and male categories and I see a lot of young people who have future in wrestling.
“So far so good, I am thrilled about the excitement that I have seen across all the centres that I have been to since I arrived in Benin.
“My message to the athletes is to remain disciplined and continue to train harder as they go back home. I have also seen the spirit of sportsmanship on display here, I have seen those that have won and those that have lost and the spirit of comradeship in them. I think that the future is great for most of these young athletes,” he said.
Speaking further the minister clarified that there was no love lost between the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Edo State government over the initial threat by the host state to shutdown the Games, saying they are partners.
“We’re partners and this games wouldn’t have been possible without the Ministry of Youth and Sports or without the Edo State government. If not for COVID-19, everything was set and we were just five days to the Games when the pandemic came and within one year we all had to recover. So, we are partners and this partnership would continue for the sake of the youth and athletes that we have in this country and sports development in our dear nation.”
He expressed confidence that the athletes who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and distinguished themselves at the Edo 2020 Games would do Nigerians proud in Tokyo.
“We settled for 11 different sports including track and field and from here records are being broken. You see the new ones that have qualified and this is what we expected from this festival, that is why we call it Nigerian Olympics. I’m very hopeful that if we get all these athletes into camp, get them in shape, focus on and support them, these groups of athletes would do Nigeria proud at the Olympics.