There are investment, empowerment and business opportunities in Nigeria’s National Sports Festival, writes PELUMI BOLAWA as Delta braces up for the 2022 edition
Delta State Government has assured Nigerians that the 2022 National Sports Festival will attract huge investments compared to the previously held festivals.
In a chat with Financial Street, the Chairman, Delta State Sports Commission, Tonobok Okowa, said the state “is planning to host the best ever National Sports Festival in Nigeria” next year.
Stating the preparedness of the state and the economic pull the festival promises, Okowa disclosed that the facilities had been put in place to host the event.
His words, “Hopefully, we shall host and retain our title as the best in sports in the country. We have almost all the facilities and requirements in place and the few we are to build will definitely be ready between July and August next year.”
Setback by COVID-19
The 2020 NSF was delayed due to the Coronavirus Disease-induced lockdown, leading to economic losses.
“Edo 2020 NSF recorded some losses in terms of naira and kobo,” said Edo 2020 Communications Secretary, Musa Ebomhiana. “But we gained by the postponement in terms of lives of our people, our guests, athletes and officials, whose lives are not quantifiable in monetary terms.”
Okowa said school hostels would shelters most of the athletes.
“We shall use some of the hostel facilities of some higher institutions in and around Asaba for sportsmen and women during the games. Our target is not just hosting to win, but to organise a festival that will be talked about several years after,” he added.
According to him,making use of school hostels will serve as an opportunity for the infrastructure in these institutions to get facelift.
Fostering unity, development
Held yearly, the NSF is one of the many programmes that were launched after the Nigerian Civil War that ended in 1970 to foster unity and re-integration among the citizens. The festival attracts people and youths from across the country.
Beyond the unifying aspect of the sporting event, it has become one of the means for national development; improving infrastructure and generating jobs.
Exposure and fortune
Also, the event provides opportunities for thousands of athletes from Nigeria to gather and express their sporting abilities. Some of them are picked from the festival to represent the country at international events like the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Cup organised by Federation of International Football Associations.
Anytime a state is selected to host the festival, there is usually a speedy attendance to the development of sporting facilities in the state. This generates employment opportunities and promotes tourism.
Former Minister of Sports and Youth development, Solomon Dalung, said, “The National Sports Festival has produced almost 200 millionaires. I know of at least one state whose governor promised each gold medalist one million naira. That is empowerment, and you can not find any country in Africa where they have been able to empower young people in just 10 days and produced 200 millionaires.”
Speaking ahead of the 2020 edition, the Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission, Godwin Dudu-Orumen, said, “Hosting such events usually attracts commercial benefits in all ramifications. Even the roadside sellers and hawkers will not be left out of the opportunity offered by the festival to earn extra income.
“The NSF was a perfect platform to generate Return on Investment by the Edo State government.”
Improving the economy
In Europe, an average cost of a football match ticket is £30 (about N17,000). The cost of a football match ticket in Nigeria is from N1,000 to N3,000, while the VIP box ranges around N10,000 and N15,000.
With this, the Delta government can work to reduce this amount and, in turn, attract participants for the games.
Team Delta has retained the gold since 2012. The state has a total of 384 medals (158 gold, 116 silver and 110 bronze).
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