By Peter Uwumarogie
Gombe – The Gombe State Government says it is set to revive school sports festival as a tool towards fostering peace and unity while discovering young athletes for the state and the country.
The Executive Chairman, Gombe State Sport Commission, Mr Hamza Soye, made this disclosure when members of the state’s chapter of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) paid him a courtesy visit in Gombe on Wednesday.
He stated that the event which was last held in 2001 had been captured in the 2020 budget adding “we had wanted to do it before the National Sports Festival in Edo but for time constraint.
“We have taken it as a challenge and included it in the 2020 budget and at any time we do it after the national sports festival it is still right.
“We are committed to grassroots sports development.
“ We are not just going to organise sports festival only but also school sports competitions to ensure that we discover more talents that will represent the state and the nation at large.
“Since the focus of this administration is the people, and the youth being the future, we are going to revive sports festival to discover talents and professionalise their talents for them so that talents are no wasted.
“We are passionate about this because most athletes that performed in years past were products of school sports festivals and competitions.
“We will support our young minds to realise their potential in sports,’’ he said.
The executive chairman hinted that the reward system for the youth who make the state proud would be reviewed to ensure “those who win gold or medals for the state are encouraged through special recommendation for jobs’’.
He said that the event when started would draw the interests of the youth away from drugs that presently threaten their health and potential, adding “when sports engage you, nothing else will matter.’’
He also hinted that sports development in the state would be comprehensive and not just on football, stressing that such will allow the commission to discover varieties of athletes.
He decried that private stakeholders had always seen sports funding as an ‘exclusive preserve of government or social services’.
“This should not be the case. Well-meaning Nigerians must support the Federal Government and states in that regard.’’
On the level of preparation for the National Sports Festival in Edo, Soye said, “we are doing everything possible to prepare the team and very soon we will embark on close camping to monitor the team.
Earlier, the state’s SWAN Chairman, Mr Haliru Teli, commended the state government for its interest in reviving grassroots sports stressing that such was needed to raise more athletes to address the dearth of athletes in the country.