By Goodluck Ikiebe
As the 2023 National Youth Games kicks off, the Federal Government has called on participants to ensure they compete fairly in the spirit of Unity of the nation.
The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, gave the charge on Saturday when he declared open the 7th edition of the National Youth Games holding in Asaba, the Delta State Capital.
The President stated that the aim of the games, which was conceived in 2013 was to reposition sports at the grassroots level and to facilitate the discovery of budding talents in the country.
Represented by the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, the President stated further that National Youth Games serves as an effective platform for talent identification and development as well as a level playing ground for young athletes to achieve excellence in sports and not necessarily to compete for the purpose of winning medals alone.
He explained that the Games is designed not only to enhance and elevate sports globally and regionally, but also to establish a standard for athletes’ succession from one generation to another and enable athletes participation in their community development as well as reinvigorate national unity and collaboration amongst them.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu informed that his administration is committed to the development of sports in the country and that was why he specifically created the Ministry of Sports Development and assigned a colossus administrator, Senator John Owan Enoh to drive its affairs, in line with the policy thrust of government.
The aim, he added, is to ensure that Sports move from mere recreation to job creation, thereby providing opportunities for poverty reduction amongst our Youths, both male and female through the government’s agenda of inclusiveness thus, improving on the security of the nation.
The President, who congratulated Delta State Government for hosting the games, urged officials and athletes to compete with the spirit of fairness and togetherness, while putting the interest of the nation ahead.
He wished the athletes a fruitful competition.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Governor of Delta State, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, stated that since inception, the National Youth Games has proven to be a cost effective and reliable tool to promote national unity, advance development and peace at both national and sub-national levels.
He observed that if this is effectively harnessed, Sports has the power to positively impact on the economic and social wellbeing of any society.
Sports, he noted, *plays a great role in the realization of development and peace, in its promotion of tolerance and respect, and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities, not to mention its health, education and social inclusiveness objectives.*
The Governor noted further that the Deltans on these ideals were unshakeable and that is why he.said,*the Government of Delta State has continued to make its resources available to host national and international sporting competitions*
In 2018, he added, the State hosted the African Senior Athletics Championship, and in November 2022, the 21st National Sports Festival.
Gov. Oborevwori reiterated that the Stephen Keshi Stadium has become a venue of choice for hosting national football championships, as Delta is becoming the beehive of Sports in Nigeria.
He assured all participants of a peaceful and exciting games as security personnel, protocol officers, traffic management teams, and volunteers are on ground to ensure a peaceful, safe and secure environment for free and fair competition.
The event is expected to feature not less than 5,742 athletes from across the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, who will jostle for honours in about 30 Sports.