The 2013 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Sports and Cultural Festival kicks off on Monday (today) in Abuja with the first football match between Delta State and Kaduna State at the Old Parade Ground.
The event was declared open by the Minister of Youth Development, Inuwa Abdulkadir.
The Four-day tournament which will come to an end on 7th of February will see all the eight zonal qualified states compete in football, Volleyball and athletes as well as cultural competitions.
The Delta State football team defeated their Kaduna State counterparts 4:2 in an entertaining opening match.
The Senior National Football team coach, Stephen Keshi invited one of the outstanding players of the last edition of the competition, Stephen Morah to the Eagles Camp in preparation for AFCON qualifiers last year.
We need youths
Declaring the event open, the Minister of Youth Development said the government needed the youths to show strong positive character and leadership attributes as future leaders.
'"I urge the youths to partner with the governments at all levels for the benefits to reach all youths across the country.
"This informs the introduction of modules on leadership skills, value orientation and other life skills in the orientation programme directed at equipping the youth for future challenges," Abdulkadir said.
Abdulkadir added that the government was not unaware of the challenges faced by the youths, but it is capitalizing on using sports and culture as strategies to empower the youths and create jobs.
"The government is not unaware of the challenges confronting the youths, but the vehicles of sports and culture remain complementary strategies to other functional and economic based programmes.
"The interventions are meant to create jobs and reduce poverty which will ultimately reduce the socio-economic pressure on the nation's army of unemployed young men and women.
"The You-win Entrepreneural Scheme, the SURE-P initiative, Youths in Agriculture programme, MDG based interventions and other different skill acquisition training projects in other sectors like ICT, trade and investment and education are few of the mechanisms put in place to reduce youth unemployment," he said.
Abdulkadir added that the theme of the NYSC 'Sports and Culture festival; 'Tools for National Integration and Development' shows the crucial role sports and culture could play in mobilizing the citizenry.
Sports and culture can play a crucial role in mobilizing the citizenry and it is the most potent force for national integration and development."