A cross section of athletes and coaches who participated in the just concluded 18th National Sports Festival, Eko 2012 have heaped praises on UAC of Nigeria Plc, one of the sponsors of the festival and other corporate organisations who supported the state government to successfully host a top class event.
Some of them who spoke shortly after the spectacular closing ceremony expressed satisfaction with the organisation of the festival, saying Lagos, with the collaboration of UACN and others, has set a standard that would be difficult to beat.
An athlete from Borno State, Kabiru Usman, whose team won nine medals at the Games, said the sponsors should be commended for partnering the state government to provide a platform where new talents could be groomed and nurtured to compete at future international competitions.
"Massive support like this from private sector would raise the standard of the festival with benefits to athletes. It would also go a long way in making the objectives of the festival to be achieved," Usman explained.
According to James Ndugugbulta, a track and field coach from Adamawa State, private sector partnership such as this is a sign of great future for the Games as current reality shows that government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility of organising a sports festival that features thousands of athletes from the 36 states of federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
"If we must sustain this standard, then the support of corporate organisations is very essential," Ndugugbulta maintained.
Group Managing Director, UAC of Nigeria Plc, Larry Ettah, said the organisation threw its weight behind the festival as a result of its firm belief in the ideals of the Games.
"As good corporate citizen, we give utmost support to brilliant initiatives aimed at engendering friendly interaction with a view to enhancing and strengthening national unity," Ettah explained. He maintained that the sponsorship of the Games was UACN's way of giving back to the society.
Eko 2012 is so far the biggest private sector driven festival held in the history of the competition.