Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, at the weekend, in Asaba, hinted that the National Sports Festival will soon hold.
The annual sporting fiesta has not be held in the past five years, mainly due to financial challenges.
Dalung who was in Asaba, Delta State, to inspect the ongoing rehabilitation works at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in preparation for the hosting of 2018 African Senior Athletic Competition, said a new date for the national sport festival will be made known after the National Council on Sports meeting coming up soon in Kaduna.
Accompanied by the president, Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Ibrahim Shehu Gusau and former AFN president, Solomon Ogba, Dalung said the quality of work at the stadium was encouraging, and expressed optimism that the facilities would be ready on time for the championship coming up in August. Dalung noted that the championship would be used to showcase the capacity of Africa to host the world.
“They (contractors) took so much time to fortify the structures and improve on the pitch so that we can enjoy it for a long time. Delta State government deserves commendations,” he added.
Explaining that the economic values of sports development all over the world cannot be quantified enough, the Minister said: “Brazil was near economic recession when she hosted the 2016 Olympics, and after the game declared in excess $78m with highways, railways etc as benefits.” He added that the economy of Delta State after the competition would develop rapidly.
He had, during a courtesy call on Gov. Okowa, expressed gratitude to the state for accepting to host the competition, support grassroot sports and above all, organising the school football competition which has exposed talents.
Responding, Okowa said the state was committed to the hosting of the championship and that the stadium would be ready in three months time.
“There are lots that can be done. We don’t have any challenge to see the project to fruition,” the governor said.