By Segun Giwa
Akure – The Ondo State Sports Council (OSSC) on Wednesday screened its athletes billed to represent the state at the upcoming National Youth Games (NYG) in Ilorin.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 10-day event for athletes whose ages are not more than 15 years comes up between Sept. 7 and Sept.17.
The screening took place at the State Sports Complex in Akure.
It was supervised by the General Manager of the sports council, Mr Wande Fabuluje, and other top management staff of the council.
Fabuluje told newsmen during the exercise that the bitter experience they had in Ibadan during the zonal eliminations made them to screen the athletes according to international standards.
He said that the council wanted to ensure that there would not be over age athletes among the Ondo contingent that would be screened out during the event proper in Ilorin.
“We are doing this to avoid a repeat of the ugly experience that greeted the zonal eliminations in Ibadan, where Ondo State athletes qualified for two of the five sports they featured in.
“They were, however, screened out in other three sports events.
“We, the top management staff, have to be involved in the screening of the athletes to boost the chances of the state contingent at the event proper.
“If left in the hands of the coaches alone, they might include over-age players because of their quest for victory.
“This may later hurt the state at the main competition in Ilorin,” he said.
According to him, any state that was screened out during the competition will pay N200,000 fine as part of the rule of the competition.
“So, in order not to run afoul of the rule of the game and to be on the safer side, we have to do the right thing at the right time to avoid putting the state into unnecessary debt.
“Neither the management nor the coaches will be in the screening centre when the external officials will be doing justice to each state’s contingents.
“That is why we are determined to not allow what happened in Ibadan to repeat itself. We want to ensure that we go the National Youth Games with the real under-15 athletes,” he said.
Fabuluje boasted that all the state athletes would scale through the screening in Ilorin, saying,” We have done a thorough job.”
According to him, the state will participate in no less than 20 sports at the competition, with the assurance that the athletes will do the state proud at the tournament.