. . . Appraises Performance at National Sports Festival
By Jude Atupulazi
Buoyed by the performance of the state's contingent at the National Sports Festival held in Abuja last December, the Anambra State Sports Commission plans to begin early camping for her athletes ahead of the next festival in Edo State in 2020.
At the last festival, Anambra State recorded her highest medal haul of 5 gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze medals to place 16th; a position that the chairman of the Anambra State Sports Commission, Tony Oli, however said was not good enough.
Interacting with members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, Anambra Chapter, last Wednesday in Awka, Oli, while appraising the state's performance at the last festival, said though the state recorded her highest medal haul in years, he was not entirely satisfied with the achievement as the state could have done better.
He blamed the inability of the state's contingent to do better on factors such as sports politics and previous inactivity in the sports sector before the present administration. He however said the experiences gathered at the last festival would put the state in good stead to compete better next time.
He recalled the state's exploits at the National Youth Games held earlier around the time he assumed office, describing it as an eye opener. At the games, the state's contingent won 3 gold, 7 silver and 3 bronze medals. He noted that the games took place when he had just been appointed to head the commission and promised that lessons learnt at the two sports fiestas would be put to good use in future.
To that end, he disclosed plans by the commission to begin early camping for the athletes ahead of the 2020 National Sports Festival in Edo State, possibly by the end of this year. According to Oli, preliminary preparations could begin then.
Oli said the talents discovered at the National Sports Festival were being monitored and groomed.
On facilities, he said while there was need to set up more, the existing ones would be used in the mean time, while facilities would be set up zonally to bring sports development to the grassroots.
'Lack of facilities will not hinder our progress,' Oli assured.
He expressed satisfaction that the state's athletes were being adequately catered for, even at the festival, as they were the cynosure of all eyes during the opening ceremony. He said a meeting had been held on how to retain and motivate the state's talents and that it only remained to obtain the governor's approval.
On the plans of the commission for 2019, Oli said the ''Walk for Life'' programme would be sustained after two successful outings in Awka-Abagana and Awka- Agulu. He said the next one would be held in Onitsha and subsequently in Nnewi and Aguata, after which it would be decentralized and held in local governments.
In football, he announced plans to create a football season that would run from Nov 30-May 27 yearly. He said May 27 was chosen as the final to coincide with the Children's Day as those taking part in the competition fell within the age bracket.
He also disclosed that there would be many other football competitions involving traders, schools, security personnel, among others as part of efforts to bring sports to the grassroots.