National Sports Festival: Edo getting ready to host the Nation
By Igbaugba Ehigimetor, Nigeria News Agency
On Dec. 16, 2018, at the closing ceremony of the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF), “Abuja 2018,’’ Edo was announced as the host of the 20th edition of the biennial sports festival.
Solomon Dalung, the then Minister of Youth and Sports Development, said the state was chosen after careful assessment of its bid.
Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo, who was present at the occasion, assured that the state would live up to expectation.
“We accept this challenge and will be ready to host the whole of Nigeria as expected in Benin in 2020,” Obaseki said.
Obaseki went down the memory lane to explain that the then Bendel, now Edo and Delta states, won the NSF hosting right in 1981, while Edo played host to the rest of Nigeria in 2002.
The Ministry was careful in granting Edo the hosting right to avoid the circumstances that led to not holding the festival for six years.
At the closing ceremony of the 18th NSF in Lagos in 2012, Cross River was announced the host of the 19th NSF.
The state could not put the necessary infrastructure in place for the festival to hold in 2014.
As a result of failure from the Cross River Government the hosting right was withdrawn, while the 19th NSF eventually held in Abuja in 2018.
To avoid delay, the Edo Government hit the ground running immediately the state won the hosting right.
The main venue, Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, has been undergoing reconstruction in the past one year, and is almost 95 per cent completed.
Femi James, the site engineer of Peculiar Ultimate Consult, said the stadium would be one of the best in the county when completed.
According to James, the main bowl of the stadium will boast of required FIFA facilities such as surveillance monitor and standard studio that will make it easy to relay live matches.
“As you can see, a lot have been achieved; while various fittings are currently being installed with others completed, installation of seats is also being completed.
“This stadium which is about the best in the country will be fitted with surveillance monitor 5km radius and also studio facilities.
“It will be about the only stadium in the country with these facilities, the stadium will only be compared to that in Uyo and Abuja when completed.
“As for the tracks, we are done with the ground work and only awaits the arrival of the facility from Germany which payments have been made,” he declared.
James said that besides the tracks, payments have been made for the flood lights and the score board.
“We have already installed lights inside all the covered stands and also installed the shadow casting lights for the turf; we are only awaiting the arrival of the flood lights and the score board for installation.”
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who recently undertook a tour of the stadium, commended the governor on his administration’s commitment to deepen sports development by investing in the reconstruction of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and other sporting facilities in the state.
He said that based on what is on ground; the state was prepared to host the 2020 NSF.
Obaseki, on his part, said the state was ready to host the NSF.
“I am impressed with the total rebuilding of the stadium to a 21st century model edifice. We have built the pitch; the tracks are to be replaced. The swimming pool, long tennis, and indoor courts are all wearing new looks.”
Mr Philip Shaibu, Edo Deputy Governor and Chairman, 2020 NSF Local Organising Committee (LOC), assured that all sporting venues and facilities will be ready by Dec. 31, 2019.
Shaibu reinstated that in accordance with rules of such big sporting tournaments; the mascot and theme song for the games have already been unveiled with 100 per cent local content.
The mascot was named “Etin,” which in Benin dialect means, strength and designed by Anthony Ifemeje.
He restated that the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, the main venue of the festival and other complementary venues were almost completed.
Shaibu said that apart from the National Stadium, Abuja, Edo will be the first state to have a double game event for squash, while the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, now has an Assisted Video Recorder (AVR) facility ready for use.
He said that all the 12 sub-committees were working round the clock to ensure hitch-free festival.
He said that the Main Organising Committee (MOC), would soon commence training of desk officers that would handle the accreditation of athletes and officials.
The deputy governor said the services of between 2,000 to 3,000 volunteers would be needed to ensure smooth management of the games.
He said the volunteers would be recruited through advertisement to be placed on the games portal to make for the smooth running of the games tagged, `Return of the Native.’
“ Edo was on recess for 11-12 years, which made Nigeria to lose its potential. “
“We are ready to host other 35 states and Abuja in the Return of the Native.
“ Edo is ready to take its pride of place in sports,” Shaibu said.
Mr Mike Itemuagbon, the Chairman, Marketing Sub-Committee, said no fewer than 8, 500 athletes are expected to participate in the 20th edition of the NSF, which will hold from March 22 to April 1, 2020.
The athletes will compete for 3,000 medals from 33 sports in 22 venues.
Itemuagbon called for synergy between the publicity and the marketing committees, and urged the publicity committee to use various platforms to sell the festival to the world.
“Nothing will be left to chance in a bid to ensure the best organised NSF in the country, but then, we must be up and doing in our various assigned responsibilities.
“We must understand that the media and marketing drive sport, so we must use our various platforms to propagate the Edo2020 event,” Itemuagbon said.
In order to ensure free movement of athletes and officials to competition venues, Gov. Obaseki said that plans had been concluded to purchase over 100 new buses, which will be added to the Edo City Transport Service (ECTS) fleet.
According to the governor, the state is already finalising talks with relevant stakeholders to supply the vehicles.
All hands should be on deck to enable Edo deliver on its promise of organising a world-class National Sports Festival. (NANFeatures)
**If used, please credit the writer as well as Nigeria News Agency .
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