Senator John Owan Enoh, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, has called on stakeholders in the sporting industry to continue to collaborate with the federal government in its resolve to rid the National Youth Games (NYG) of the age cheating practice.
The Minister, who made the call today in Asaba, the Delta State Capital, stated that age cheating in sporting events meant for the discovery and development of young talents for the country at the grassroots level has become a cankerworm that, if not completely eliminated, is capable of crippling the government’s efforts at developing grassroots sports.
“The issue of age cheating in sports is an area in which the Ministry requires the support and collaboration of all stakeholders. On our part, one of the innovations at this year’s edition of the Games is the introduction of the National Identity Number (NIN) as part of the verification process for athletes.
“Working with other stakeholders, we shall keep improving the process as we move along until we reduce to the barest minimum the issue of age cheating in sports. We have to get this right as a nation if we hope to achieve sports excellence, he said.
Enoh, who stated that the 7th Edition of the National Youth Games is his first big national competition as the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, expressed joy that he is beginning with a competition that connects with the grassroots, where our sports development’s future lies.
While applauding the Delta State Government for raising the bar in the organization of the Games, the minister of sport urged the state to move to the next level.
“I implore you to continue to improve, as I have been briefed that the next three editions will also be staged here in Asaba, Delta State,” he added.
The National Youth Games, according to the Minister, began over a decade ago as a veritable tool for harnessing the large pool of talents available within the country in order to secure the future of Nigerian sports.
The games, he explained, were designed as a level-playing ground for young athletes aged 15 and below to achieve optimum performance and excellence in sports, as well as raise fitness consciousness and mass participation in sports among the youth.
Enoh noted that this year’s edition presents a unique opportunity for us to rewrite the story of our sports in the country because it comes at a time when we have a president who is interested in taking the sports sector to the next level by creating a ministry solely responsible for sports.
He said, “I can assure you that the present leadership of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will pay undivided attention to the development of the abundance of talents in the nation. We do this not just with an eye on podium performances but to create a career pathway for our youth and millions of job opportunities in the sports value chain.”
The minister expressed optimism that the quality of athletes present at the Games is capable of making our country proud at any time and in any place, and he urged all concerned National Sports Federations to use the Games to evaluate their sports developmental objectives and further develop identified talents to elite levels.
The Minister praised President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for his magnanimity in approving the Games’ hosting.
Enoh also thanked the Delta State Government and the entire Delta State Sports Commission administration for being a worthy host of the Games.