Youths and Sports Development Minister, Solomon Dalung has challenged states in the country to invest in grassroots development, saying doing so would channel the youths’ minds to gainful activities.
Speaking during the official opening of the second Akwa Ibom State Youths Sports Festival for Primary and Secondary Schools at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, tagged ‘Uyo 2018,’ the minister, represented by his ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Esther Tonye Aluko, opined that grassroots sports was critical in states as products of such ventures would grow to bring laurels to the states and the country as international stars.
“For a sport to develop to an enviable standard in a state, there is need for well funded development structure and system that would install a proper pyramid with a wide base of talents at the grassroots level leading up to the world class athletes of men and women. This structure and system will attract public and private participation and support,” he said.
The minister said he was happy that Akwa Ibom State was already on the part to sports excellence, stressing that such was evident during the 2017 National Youth Games held in Kwara State.
Earlier, the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, had said that whatsoever the state was putting into sports development was counted as an investment, stressing that, “we have to let us know that sport is a gold mine to our generation.”
According to him, the gathering of the youths was not a political, religious or tribal meeting, but that the youths were gathering in one accord to exhibit their talents and skills that would make them represent Akwa Ibom as a whole there political, religious or ethnic nationality notwithstanding.
“The truth is that the best sports state in Nigeria is Akwa Ibom State. Let me reiterate to all Nigerians that we are going somewhere; that we have set a seven year target and that in every 11 players that will be in the pitch representing Nigeria, at least five or six of such players will come from Akwa Ibom State.
“Let us engage our youths in something that will bring about their mental development and also make them to shun cultism and all vices that will be inimical to them attaining their God given talent.
“We believe that though not every Akwa Ibom children were born with equal talent, they should be given equal opportunity to explore their God given potential and that is precisely what this competition is all about,” he said.