By Albert Akota
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has tasked the Nigeria Team for the Abuja 2020 Para-Powerlifting World Cup to focus on making the country proud and avoid all distractions.
He said this yesterday, when he visited the team at the camp at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
The Minister expressed commitment to athletes welfare and said he will not allow the politics of sports stop him from giving the most important stakeholders – athletes – the best government can offer.
The Minister also said he was not unaware of the immediate and remote challenges faced by Nigerian athletes but is ready to shield them from the effects.
Mr. Dare took the time to explain the Ministry’s ‘Adopt-an-Athelete’ programme, which he said is designed to connect individual athletes to corporate institutions and private individuals for sponsorship of the athletes’ training.
“Once the link is done, you will be connected to the person or company and the money comes directly to you. It doesn’t come to the Ministry or anyone else.
“The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports has a responsibility to you and no Federation or President of any Federation is bigger than the Ministry,” he continued.
“The Ministry takes the lead and that has been the rule. I am not going to change it. The Ministry is the government and we have your best interest at heart. No matter whatever else is happening, ultimately the Ministry is responsible for you.
“I want to thank you sincerely for your service and sacrifice. Whatever has happened, let’s put it all behind us and do Nigeria proud.”
He promised the team bonuses for qualifying to represent Nigeria and for winning medals.
The Minister added that the upcoming Tokyo Olympics promises to be the best in Nigeria’s history because, “For the first time,” he said, “we are directly supporting and working on the welfare of the athletes because they are the most important.
If I have to reduce the team that will travel from the Ministry to get extra money to support the athletes, I will do it because you are the most important stakeholders. So, keep your eyes on the goal. Whatever happens, let us on this side deal with it.”
The Para-Powerlifting World Cup competitions kick off today in Abuja. Nigeria is presenting two teams, Senior and Junior categories.
The team has many world record holders and is expected pick up many medals at the tournament.