When the Federal Government of Nigeria through the then Ministry of Youth and Sports Development conceived the idea of the National Youth Games, it was designed to focus on the development of young talents that the national would begin to use to replace the ageing athletes of Team Nigeria.
Baring this in mind, states across the federation have been coming together to feature athletes for them to see how they are faring in achieving this cardinal objective of the youth games as a breeding ground to discover young talents.
While this is going on, Independent News Express can report that some states, through official overzealousness, decide to feature overage athletes in an ambitious bid to win laurels.
“In Lagos, we are mindful of the objective of the National Youth Games, and we do adhere strictly to the rules of the games. We see the Games as a developmental based platform than competition based,” said Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Sola Aiyepeku while speaking with the media at the venue of swimming events at the ongoing 7th National Youth Games in Asaba, Delta State on Wednesday.
Aiyepeku reiterated that Lagos State’s focus in catch them young, and this has been given the state value added gains from the organisation of the youth games.
“For Lagos, National Youth Games has been helping us. After every edition, we always count our blessings as we used to get new pool of talents. For example, at the end of last edition, it on record that we got 40 percent fresh talents.
“We have been using the youth games to try out talent. It is unfortunate for those states featuring overage athletes in the National Youth Games. They are not helping the children, but destroying them, and also inflicting injury to the nation’s sports development.
“The National Youth Games is not about winning gold medals, but for the athletes to enjoy sports at this level,” Aiyepeku said.
The Executive Chairman also threw more light on the synergy that exist between the sports commission, public and private schools in Lagos since he assumed office, adding that this synergy is paying off with performance of Team Lagos in the National Youth Games which athletes are drawn from the schools.
“We can see massive improvement in the medals we have been winning in swimming events this year compare to the previous editions. The children in the private schools are joining force with the children in the public schools for us to have a team of ‘One Lagos’.
“We will continue to ensure that this synergy continues. Our plan has always been to organise more competitions to keep these discoveries in their good top form as we are getting quality improvement on our athletes,” he said.