The Ebonyi Government on Saturday gave reasons for the non participation of its athletes at the on-going National Sports Festival (NSF) in Abuja.
Mr Charles Akpuenika, the state’s Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the government was concentrating on locally-organised sporting events to unearth hidden talents.
Akpuenika noted that the government organised several sporting events in 2018 as the talents discovered would be groomed to equitably represent the state in zonal and national competitions.
“We have organised the inaugural David Umahi Tertiary Institutions Games (DUMTIGA) where several talents were discovered from the participating tertiary institutions in the state.
“The state also organised the David Umahi Para-military games to promote unity among the agencies and ensure the fitness of their officers.
“The school sports competition which was last organised in 2008 is presently at the state level after several primary and secondary schools qualified during the Local Government Area (LGA) and zonal elimination series.
“The ‘Akubaroha’ (the state governor’s title) cup would soon commence in all the 171 wards of the state with a qualifier emerging from the 24 state constituencies, to compete at the state level.
“This shows that the government is desirous to revamp sports especially at the grassroots as talents already discovered are showing promise while being groomed,” he said.
He noted that much fuss should not be made of the state’s non participation in the sports festival, noting that it had participated actively in past editions and other national sports events.
“We participated in the national youth games in 2016 and 2017 in Ilorin, Kwara and not all the states participated in those competitions.
“It will be difficult to find a state government which has invested in sports development like Gov. David Umahi and I think the government should be encouraged for these initiatives,” he said.
According to him, the issue of incurring a ban or fine from the sports ministry for non-participation should not arise as the government should be commended for its resolve to revamp sports.
“The sport minister recently sent a commendation letter to the governor for being sport friendly as I appeal to the sports ministry to be guided by this commendation,” he said.