It is no more news that the much awaited National Sports Festival (NSF) 2020 is scheduled to take place on December 3, this year, in Benin, the capital of Edo State.
The 22nd edition of the National Council on Sports made the disclosure in a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting recently at the Government House, Asaba, Delta State.
Now that the date has been fixed, it is necessary to draw the attention of the Kano State number one sports administrator, Alhaji Kabiru Ado Lakwaya, the Commissioner of Youth and Sports Development to do what is expected from him by putting the state on the path of victory at the forthcoming largest sports gathering of the nation.
The commissioner should bear it in his mind that the state is not going to Benin, the capital of Edo State, for just participation sake or a jamboree, but to haul medals in all the 28 sporting events the state is participating.
This, to me, is the only way to justify all the money, the state government has been sinking in the various sports through participation and sponsorship of individuals and teams to various sporting competitions, not only in the country, but other places.
In order to achieve any feat, the state must to do its home work very well immediately before the commencement of the tournament so that it will do well in all the sporting events it registered.
This, for sure, will augur well for it, as it will no doubt go a long way in making it to occupy a good position in the summit of the nation’s sports.
More so, the superlative performance the state is expected to display at the end of the festival in Edo will heighten the chances of winning the hosting bid of the 21st National Sports Festival the state has shown interest in since long ago.
Therefore, to achieve these milestones, the commissioner needs to bring all the stakeholders together to brainstorm and come up with the best approach(es) and plans on how to achieve good or successful outings.
This will no doubt put smile on the faces of the entire people of the state during and at the end of the event.
The first and major task before Alhaji Lakwaya now is the issue of funding.
I am aware that the state government has since set aside lump sum of money for the festival.
If this is so, Alhaji Lakwaya must act quickly and work to ensure immediate release of the funds for serious preparation to begin.
The commissioner and all the professionals need to devise, without any delay, the suitable venues, sites and training facilities for the sports the state has registered.
But I stand to be corrected to say that there are no facilities on ground in the state for training, such as swimming and gymnastics, just to mention a few.
Without mincing words, provision of such facilities will enable the state athletes to come together and go for a serious, rigorous training and supervision before the commencement of the events.
Similarly, Alhaji Lakwaya also needs to work urgently and look at the possibilities of providing all the necessary and vital training and competition equipment as well as kits for all the athletes in readiness to the festival.
There is also the need for him to immediately approve the open and close camping for all registered athletes of the state.
Open camping should start immediately, while the close camping should begin few days to the festival.
While deciding on the location of the close camping, there is a need to look at the proximity of the areas between the camp and training sites.
The two must be close to each other to reduce and check athletes’ movements and monitor their fitness.
I notice in the communiqué that the request for the review of athletes’ lists is approved because they were sent since February, 2020.
Therefore, there is need for the state to thoroughly look at the submitted list of all the registered athletes of the state so as to see if any replacement is needed.
Sir, I want you to understand that rigorous training by our athletes, as emphasized earlier, is one way to ensure better performance, but financial inducement to athletes and their coaches too used to ginger their spirits to perform excellently.
I don’t want the commissioner to forget or ignore that aspect. It is paying.
Before the 2018 National Sports Festival that took place in Abuja, the state government, under the leadership of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, promised the sum of N500,000, N300,000 and 200,000 for any athlete that won Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively as a moral booster.
Sir, you need to advise the state government to repeat or even double this type of gesture and encouragement. It used to push both the athletes and their coaches to double or even triple their efforts to win more medals for the state.
I remember late Alhaji Isyaku Muhammad, the former chairman of the then Kano State Sports Council, who personally donated N20,000 to Gold medalists, N15,000 to Silver medalists and N10,000 to those who won Bronze medals during the 1998 National Sports Festival in Owerri.
Late Isyaku’s gesture saw the state occupying 2nd position in Imo State as it hauled 30 Gold, 25 Silver and 25 Bronze medals in the 11th edition of the tournament which made the state to end behind Lagos State the overall winners.
Sir, I want you to seriously look at the late Isyaku’s style or model of enticement of athletes or any other better options you have, so that it will bring a lot of medals to the state at the end of the festival.
I also noticed that the 20th National Sports Festival is going to take place in phases in compliance with all protocol guidelines put in place by the Presidential Taskforce on COVID-19. This shows the need for extra-budgeting to overcome any shortage of funds it may warrant.
To this end, I want to congratulate the commissioner on his appointment to serve as a member of the committee to collate and incorporate the inputs of council members into the amended Nigeria Sports Industry Policy.
God bless and more grease to your elbow Sir. May the sky be your limit.