Funding stalls Ebonyi’s participation in Youth Games preliminaries

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Ebonyi failed to send some team events to the qualifying championship for the National Youth Games holding in Umuahia, because of its failure to secure funding.

The event was scheduled to hold in the Abia capital from Nov. 12 to Nov. 14.

Ebonyi was supposed to participate in such events as football, volleyball and handball.

A NAN correspondent who visited the Ebonyi Sports Council reports that athletes were seen boarding buses to return to their schools, as they could proceed to Umuahia.

It was gathered that the events would end on Nov. 13 and there were no hopes for teams from the to go to Umuahia.

Emmanuel Utobo, the Director of Sports, described the development as “regrettable’’.

One of the athletes who spoke to NAN, on the condition of anonymity, said this had shown the government’s apathy toward sports development in the state.

“We have been camping here, under deplorable conditions for long, with the hope of participating in the competition and showcasing our talents.

“Our hopes have been dashed by government’s inability to release funds. We have lost on both fronts, having been out of school since commencing preparations for the event,’’ the source said.

An official of the sports council, who did disclose his identity, was seen distributing transport fares to the decamped athletes, describing the situation as `unfortunate’.

Obinna Ogba, a Vice-Chairman of the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), noted that the development was enough proof that the government was interested in sports.

He noted that it be would foolhardy to expect the government to sponsor athletes to such a competition, when it had yet to reward those that won laurels at the 2012 National Sports Festival.

Sam Mgbada, Commissioner for Youths and Sports in the state, however, said the would be represented by the basketball team of St. Augustine’s Seminary, Ezamgbo.

“The school walked over the team that fielded overage players. The team will leave for Umuahia on Wednesday,” he said.