Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has said that Nigeria’s poor performance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and absence from the African Nations Cup informed his decision to initiate the Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival. The competition, he said, will help the country discover talented stars for future engagements.
Speaking during the official opening of the maiden Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival 2017 for primary and secondary schools at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
He said the sports festival will engender a new dawn in sports talent discovery in the country, adding, “we are taking that challenge that as a country never again should Nigeria, the most populous black nation of the entire universe, be missing in the African Cup of Nations.
“A country of over 170 million people at any point in time should be able to produce over 20 footballers. So we are taking the initiative to catch them young and to represent this country in future sporting events.
“Our second challenge comes from the last Olympics in Brazil. You will see a country with a population of three million people winning series of gold medals in the last Olympics and we came back with only bronze medal.
“We are telling the world that Akwa Ibom is taking the initiative to produce future stars and talents. If a country with three million people could win many of the track and field events, that Akwa Ibom with over 6.2 million people can duplicate same in the nearest future,” he said.
The governor tasked the youths not to see sports as mere entertainment, saying the business side is indeed a goldmine, stressing that the secret of world class athletes and stars are hidden first and foremost in early exposure to world class facilities.
Governor Emmanuel urged the youths to develop good and right attitude towards sport events, saying the state government would give them all the necessary encouragement to realize their dream.