The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, on Tuesday night urged youths in the country to maximize the economic potential inherent in sports, describing it as a business venture with huge benefits.
Dare made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged “Edo 2020” in Benin City.
The minister noted that the biennial sports festival remains a cohesive agent that brings Nigerians together.
“Our sports must become business from which the benefits of job creation and employment, investments to the GDP will accrue,” Dare said.
He enjoined the participating athletes across the federation to keep to the rules of the game, adding that the sports festival has resulted in the discovery of superstars since its commencement in 1973.
He commended the resilience of the Edo State government in hosting the festival despite several postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The 20th National Sports Festival was supposed to have taken place one year ago,” Dare said.
“However, with the determination of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari in ensuring that the youths are engaged productively through sports, the doggedness of Edo State government to host the festival and the unwavering commitment of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, today, we are here not to just have the festival but a befitting festival.
“The investments made in sports infrastructure and allied structures by the Edo government signpost the direction our sports development must take; an investment in both our sportsmen and women and in sporting infrastructure.
“The National Sports Festival, as we all know, still remains one of the veritable tools for uniting the country as well as bringing the young men and women to interact and make friends. To thousands of our young athletes, let me commend your stoic patience and faith in government to make this happen,” he said.
On his part, Godwin Obaseki, the Edo State governor, urged the athletes to compete fairly in the games, noting that his administration has invested a lot in the reconstruction of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to a world-class standard.
“We have completely rebuilt this edifice in line with our vision of making Edo the epicentre for sporting activities in Nigeria,” he said.
It was gathered that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was supposed to declare the event open could not fly to Benin City due to adverse weather conditions.