Delta State Governor, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, Saturday, said the state has overtime become the nation’s sports destination.
Governor Oborevwori stated this in his remarks at the opening ceremony of the 7th Edition of the National Youth Games holding at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.
He congratulated the Federal Ministry of Sports Development for their consistency and dedication in organizing the National Youth Games.
He remarked that the National Youth Games had come to stay describing it “as a powerful vehicle to discover new talents from the grassroots and ensure that there is a standard programme for athletes’ succession in the country.
“Aside from athlete development, the National Youth Games has also proven to be a cost-effective and reliable tool to promote national unity and advance development and peace agendas of both the national and sub-national governments.
“Indeed, when effectively harnessed, sports have the power to positively impact on the economic and social wellbeing of any society.
He said the United Nations has recognized sports as an important enabler to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
According to the global body, sport 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 as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.
“During this year’s International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed observed and I quote: ‘sport has the power to align our passion, energy, and enthusiasm around a collective cause. And that is precisely when hope can be nurtured and trust can be regained. It is in our collective interest to harness the tremendous power of sport to help build a better and more sustainable future for all.’
“Our belief in these ideals is unshakable. Hence, the Government of Delta State has continued to make its resources available to host national and international sporting competitions.
“In 2018, we hosted the African Senior Athletics Championship, and, in November 2022, the 21st National Sports Festival.
“Meanwhile, the Stephen Keshi Stadium has become a venue of choice for hosting national football championships. Clearly, Delta is becoming the mecca of sports in Nigeria”.
He assured participants of a peaceful and exciting games, adding that adequate arrangements have been made for hitch-free movement across the length and breadth of the city.
He commended the Delta State Sports Commission, the Local Organising Committee, the support staff, and all involved in the planning and organization of the event, “The government and good people of Delta State owe you a debt of gratitude for your sacrifice, hard work, dedication, and determination to ensure a smooth and successful athletics competition”.
He charged the athletes to use the games to launch themselves to national and international prominence.
“To all our athletes, the moment of truth has arrived. Your family, friends, and well-wishers are rooting for you to seize the moment and launch yourself into national prominence.
“I trust that you are mindful of the potentials that this opportunity holds for your future. So, I urge you to rededicate yourselves to the timeless virtues of discipline, endurance, perseverance, and good sportsmanship.
“As the saying goes, records are meant to be broken. So, I challenge you to set new records and take Nigerian sports to another level,” Governor Oborevwori stated.
Earlier while receiving the Minister and his delegation, Oborevwori said that “Delta is now a mecca for sporting activities and I want to assure you that we have been hosting lots of sports activities and we have never had any crisis or any security issues and I want to assure you that all arrangements have been made to ensure a hitch-free exercise.
“We have released the necessary funds to ensure the games goes on smoothly and all arrangements have been put in place to ensure a successful hosting,” he said.
President Bola Tinubu while declaring open the National Youth Games, urged the athletes to promote the spirit of friendship and sportsmanship amongst all states.
The President who was represented by the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Enoh called on all state officials and athletes to compete with the spirit of fairness and togetherness, while putting the interests of the nation first.
The Minister who spoke earlier during a visit to Governor Oborevwori thanked the Governor and the good people of Delta for accepting to host the games.
“The National Youth Games are a baby of the Federal Ministry of Sports Development and it is on the 7th Edition. The previous ones have all been located in Ilorin, Kwara State.
“This is the first time that Delta State is hosting the games and I must thank the government and people of Delta State very heartily for accepting to be the host.
“From the briefs I have received since I became Minister of Sports Development, I am aware that this games are going to be in Delta for the next couple of years and I thank you for this.
“The National Youth Games are intended to discover talents amongst our young boys and girls age not more than 15. The idea is that sports men and women we engage in our sports will be getting to their retirement and we need to have a pool of talented men and women boys and girls and we take care of them.
“The challenge for us is that of transitioning them in that early stages and we are hoping that working with states like Delta we will be able to accomplish this,”
He said the National Youth Games engenders National unity like the National Youth Service Corps, adding that it gives young boys and girls the opportunity to work and compete together.
“It is our hope that the National Youth Games will be able to assist the government and the people of Nigerians to continue to live in peace and unity with one another,” he said.
The Games will take place between September 23rd – 30th, 2023 across multiple venues in the Delta state capital.
More than 5,742 athletes from the 36 states, including the Federal Capital Territory will compete for medals in 35 different sports.