Speaking at the opening ceremony of the games at the University of Ilorin, the minister said the competition had produced athletes who had represented Nigeria at international fora.
The minister, who was represented by Ademola Are, Director, Grassroots Sports Development in the ministry, said the games had lived up to expectations.
”At the maiden edition in 2013, the discovered athletes represented Nigeria at the 2014 African Youth Games in Botswana and 2015 Commonwealth Games in Samoa where laurels were won.
”At the third and fourth editions, the discovered athletes represented Nigeria at the African Youth Games in Algeria.
”So, it is my hope that this edition will follow in the same notable path of history by producing podium athletes,” Dare said.
He added that sports in Nigeria had grown tremendously and contributed in no small measure to the socio-economic growth and national unity of the country.
Gov. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara said the current sports challenges in Nigeria were surmountable through training and retraining of athletes, coaches and stakeholders.
Abdulrazaq, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Youths and Sports, Mr Shuaib Akanbi, also said youth development and empowerment should be used to engage the youths positively.
”I urge you all to resist all temptations to get rich quick without working hard as it will lead to failure and destroy your life,” he said.
Prof. Suleiman Age, the Vice Chancellor of University of Ilorin, urged the participants not to jeopardise the ideals for which the competition was instituted.
”There should be no ill feelings at any point in the competition; we should all imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship.
”We should also have it in mind that this event is an opportunity to give the youths the chance to showcase their potentials.
”This particular competition is dear to our hearts as it provides great opportunity to discover young talents who will rule the sporting world in the nearest future.
”So, we pledge to continue to make our facilities, especially accommodation, available to the athletes and officials,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, Mr Olusade Adesola, represented by Toyin Aluko, urged states and local governments to invest more in grassroots sports development to diversify the economy.
”This will help to diversify the economy and create employment opportunities for the youth and contribute in no little quota in promoting peace in Nigeria,”Adesola said.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that over 4,000 athletes are competing in 34 sporting events involving 30 participating states, including the FCT.
(Edited by Remi Koleoso/Mufutau Ojo)