Lagos has kick-started preps for Delta 2022, says Aiyepeku
Lagos State finished fifth at the just concluded National Sports Festival Edo 2020 with 32 gold, 39 silver and 53 bronze medals and Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC) executive chairman Sola Aiyepeku believes the result is a reflection of their developmental programme , reports OLALEKAN OKUSAN.
With several postponements that characterised the 20th National Sports Festival, Lagos State competed with a lean and young squad to finish fifth among the 36 states and Abuja that featured in the country’s version of the Olympic Games in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
However, the Executive Chairman of LSSC Sola Aiyepeku admitted that the festival is a learning curve for his team, promising to engage the athletes ahead of the next edition in Delta State.
He explained. “I will assess the performance of Team Lagos at the just concluded National Sports Festival as average but even better than circumstances would have permitted because it is a mixture of few things.
“One we took a younger squad and the contingent were not as many as originally planned if it was held last year and there were several factors at Edo that did not make us perform better.
“But like I said , it was a learning curve and we spotted good talents ; we have learnt many lessons and so I will describe the performance as average because we also came fifth which was not what we targeted for.
“This was the first festival embarked upon by myself and Director General, so it was part of experience gathering and we are certain with the continuing backing of the government, we can do better in the future.”
Reflecting further on Edo 2020, Aiyepeku hinted that the commission under his watch would start in earnest preparation for the next edition of the National Sports Festival, assuring that athletes will be engaged in competitive sports before the next festival.
He offered: “Rather than wait for the next festival in Delta State next year, there is almost no time and very soon the qualification series will start; selection series will start and we only take athletes who have proven themselves with the right performances and with a lot of focus on medal winning sports.
“Athletes have been engaged but it is not only for those athletes that featured at Edo 2020 as this is a continuous development pipeline as we are not only going to focus on the athletes that are there now but we will focus also on discovering new fresh ones.
“ There is an intervention programme that is in place for school sports, I hope we start this third term and so athletes will have a means of being competitive year round and also earning an income rather than waiting every two years only for the sports festival which is not healthy.
“ If athletes have a platform where they can keep competing and earn an income based on their performances I am sure their performances will improve and also they will have something to fall back on as well as a resemblance of proper career building.”
Following the outstanding performance of special athletes, the LSSC promises to give attention to them. “For the special athlete, I think they are really special especially for their competing spirit .
“We have a good relationship with them and that will continue because we have already started plans for the special athletes’ festival that will be held towards the last quarter of this year.”
Aiyepeku hinted on the possibility of special recognition and rewards for the medallists from Edo 2020 aside the instant reward initiated by the state during the games.
“Yes, there are plans to reward the athletes but first, we need to commend Lagos on the instant reward at the festival,” he said. “ We did it and I think that is highly commendable.
“ Of course, here are plans to reward medallists and when it’s concretized, we will let everyone know.
“ We have given board of associations mandates to perform and mandate to deliver on calendars that are practical and achievable in order to change the face of sports in the state.
“Already meetings have been scheduled between now and the end of the month for each association and to keep reminding them what their mandates are and to deliver on the mandates by ensuring they have to deliver the events,” he added.
Source: Sports – Latest Nigeria News, Nigerian Newspapers, Politics
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