7 December 2012

Nigeria: Sports Festival - Swimming Body Backs Minister

Photo: Kehinde Gbadamosi/Vanguard
The High Jump Games, Miss Esiekpe Young, River State During the 18th National Sports Festival

The Nigeria Swimming Federation (NSF) yesterday said it supported the idea of making subsequent National Sports Festivals open to elite athletes.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Bolaji Abudullahi, Minister of Sports and Chairman, National Sports Commission (NSC), recently suggested the idea for the Games to be made open.

NSF President Babatunde Fatayi-Williams, who disclosed the federation's position during an interview with newsmen, said that making it open would make it highly competitive.

He said that the local and elite athletes should be given the opportunity to show their skills for the country to have an array of potentials.

"I think it's a good idea to throw the sports festival open to all athletes because it will give room for serious competition which will also make talents to be discovered," Fatayi-Williams said.

The NSF president said that giving the elite athletes the opportunity to participate would not affect the performance of the local athletes.

According to him, when local and elite athletes participate together, it will make it possible to set new national records.

Fatayi-Williams said that elite athletes suffered from neglect which made them to be out of sports early, adding that states usually invested their resources in them to bring "returns".

"National records can only be broken when elite athletes compete with the local ones; it will give the states the opportunity to select as many athletes as possible.

"Elite athletes are discouraged and suffer neglect because states will only invest in athletes who can bring their fortunes back," he said.

Fatayi-Williams recalled that the best sports festival so far was in 2006 at Abeokuta, Ogun, tagged "Gateway Games" because elite athletes competed and even broke records.

Delta is dominating in swimming at the ongoing 18th National Sports Festival, tagged "Eko 2012" with 28 medals so far, comprising 10 gold, nine silver and nine bronze.

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