After six-year in waiting, the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) finally kicks off with a colourful opening ceremony at the Abuja National Stadium, yesterday.
The biennial multi-sporting events originally designed to foster unity and help unearth new talents has been fading and nearly knocked to comatose since the last edition was held in Lagos six years ago.
Declaring the event open, Sports minister, Solomon Dalung, said a total of 8,861 participants from 35 states and FCT would compete for laurels during the 10-day long event. He said only Ebonyi State that will not participate in the festival.
According to him, Out of the 8,861 participants, 7,227 are athletes, 710 are coaches, 222 are team officials, while 702 are state officials.
Explaining on the importance of the festival, Dalung said National Sports Festival and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) are the key legacies of the country's national unity. He said that the athletes will take part in 41 games.
The opening ceremony of the 19th National Sports Festival tagged Abuja 2018, began with a colourful display of the host city, Abuja's rich cultural heritage.
All the participating states were on parade before the torch of unity, which is the symbol of the games, makes its entry into the Stadium.
The 19th National Sports Festival, tagged: "ABUJA 2018 World Series Edition" is expected to showcase and unearth new talents for the country.