Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Albert OGRAKA:
The 6th Edition of the Delta State Sports Festival, tagged Unity Games, has kicked off in Ozoro, Isoko North local government area.
Declaring the festival open, the state governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa who was represented by Mr. Oghenekaro Ilolo, Commissioner for Urban Renewal recalled that the sports festival started in 1973 under Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia.
He stated that the festival was designed to foster unity, friendship, understanding and mutual respect among the teeming youth of the state adding that sporting activities form part of the state government SMART agenda targeted towards empowerment of the youth.
He therefore called on youths to avail themselves of the opportunites offered by the festival and venture into sporting activities as a vocation which can earn them a living, urging the participants to exhibit a true spirit of sportsmanship while the officials should conduct the sporting events without manipulations.
While insisting that the state government will not renege on its determination to groom sports talents across the state, Governor Okowa promised to bring sports to the forefront of his administration’s development initiatives.
Earlier in his address, the Executive Chairman, Mr. Tonobok Okowa stated that although the Unity Games had become moribund in the past, his Commission was determined to revive the festival and it has come to state, adding that sports talent hunts cannot be undermined.
He commended Governor Okowa for ensuring its revival, which serves as a testimony of his love for grassroots sports. He also praised the efforts of the various local government chairmen for providing the enabling environment for the festival.
The Sports Commission boss stated that the sports festival is a veritable avenue for youths to develop their sporting potential adding that sporting activities is one of the highest paid vocation worldwide.
In his remarks, the state Commissioner for Information and Chairman Publicity Sub-Committee, Mr. Patrick Ukah said the sports festival is a unifying force put in place to hasten peaceful co-existence among Deltans.
The Sports Festival which was held last in 2005 is being organized by the Delta State Sports Commission, headed by its Executive Chairman, Mr. Tonobok Okowa with participants drawn from the 25 local governments in the state.
The sports fiesta is billed to hold between May 8th and 12th.
Facts from the Commission indicates that the opening and closing ceremonies will hold at the Delta State Polytechnic, Ozoro Sports Stadium, while all indoor sports will take place at the Asaba Indoors Sports Hall, Swimming at Obiaruku and Cycling in Agbor respectively.
The festival, targeted at building up grassroots sports and grooming talents from the rural parts of the state has been described as a welcome development by sports pundits and enthusiasts, but not without complaints of having been untapped by successive governments in the state.
Two amateur football clubs, Ika Rangers FC and Isoko United FC locked horns to hallmark the opening ceremony.
Highpoint of the event was the arrival of the festival touch tagged Unity Touch and lighting of the festival fame, followed by march past by contingents from the 25 local government areas of the state as well as cultural and musical performances by the Delta state Arts Council and Fretless Band respectively.
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Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –
E.I.C: Albert Eruorhe Ograka