The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Tuesday in Abuja urged all state governments to ensure a return of the state sports festivals.
Dare, while receiving Daniel Igali, the Bayelsa Commissioner of Youths and Sports who paid him a courtesy visit, said the state sports festivals would enhance the competitive level of Nigerian athletes.
He lamented the fact that most states have in the last 15 years completely stopped holding their sports festivals.
“If the sports festival is done as expected, it will increase the competitiveness of our athletes,” Dare said.
He congratulated Bayelsa on its forthcoming state sports festival, and assured that the ministry would ensure the proper development of sports at the grassroots.
Dare disclosed that the ministry had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the state over the upgrading of the Sports Academy at Asoama.
“The ministry will ensure that the academy spots and grooms young talents for the country.
“I think it will go a long way to accelerate and deepen sports development in this country,” he said.
Dare thanked the state government for its effort in encouraging grassroots sports development in the state.
The minister also noted that the wrestling sport was one of the country’s hopes for medals at international competitions.
He then urged Igali, who is an Olympic champion in the sport, to use his talent to bring up other wrestlers to enable the sport win more medals for Nigeria.
“Bayelsa is the wrestling theatre of Africa, and this had made Nigeria stand tall in the medals category in various international sports competitions,” Dare said.
He also promised that the ministry would support Igali to seek nomination to be a member of the United World Wrestling Bureau.
While speaking, Igali pointed out that Bayelsa had been home for the national wrestling team for the past 10 years.
He appreciated the minister for his efforts to help boost sports in the state, saying the wrestling theatre under construction was nearly completion.
The commissioner then called for collaboration with the ministry as he seeks to be nominated into the world wrestling bureau.
“From history, Nigeria has not had any person who contested to be a member of the body,” he said.