Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State yesterday held a reception for contingents of the state to National Youths Games and National Sports Festival held in Ilorin, Kwara state and Abuja respectively in 2019.
Mr Obiano also conferred the honour of Anambra Sports Ambassador to foremost Nigerian Olympian, Mary Onyali to serve as idol to budding athlete in the state.
The governor lauded the team for their gallant showing at the national competitions and urged them to do better in their future outings.
He gave the athletes cash reward and certificates for their efforts at the two competitions.
Anambra won a total of 19 medals at the NYG including three gold, five silver and 11 bronze while the state won 29 medals in NSF with five gold, 11 silver and 13 bronze.
Mr Obiano gave a cheque of N300, 000, N150,000 and N75, 000 to each gold, silver and bronze medal winners respectively while NSF while medalist at NYG got N150,000, N75,000 and N50,000 each for their efforts.
“I am happy to receive in the Governor’s Lodge today purely because you have earned it by winning the laurels.
“I confer on Onyali today, the honour of Sports Ambassador of Anambra.
“The Anambra Sports Development Commission (ASDC) will study the secret of her success and work out how to make most of you here champions that she is,” he said.
Mr Obiano said sports facilities in the state would receive upgrade to enable Onyali and other commission to train athletes while commending Tony Oli, Chairman of ASDC for the efforts at revamping sports sector in Anambra.
“The chairman of the Sports Commission has done well within the period, youths are being discovered for future competition,” Mr Obiano said.
In her speech, Mrs Onyali admonished the youth to take their academics seriously while chasing sporting stardom.
She said she was still relevant because of her education background, adding that she was ready and willing to mentor budding athletes to stardom by giving them scholarship through her foundation.
The two time Olympic bronze medalist thanked Mr Obiano for encouraging sports and said she was in the state to help them develop sports as a way of giving back to her place of birth.
“I have travelled widely through sports and education and that is what you need.
“I am still relevant because I have education, I am a five time Olympian, two time bronze medalist and a mother of two; if I can do it, you are capable of doing better than I am.
“I gave my blood and sweat to Nigeria but this is where I belong,” she said.
She admonished the athletes to see the reception as a gesture that would spur them for higher achievement while urging them to be part of the 90 athletes that would benefit from the N10 million grant from her foundation.
“Don’t take this gesture as a challenge to do better next time, I am here to provide you with all the support I can from my experiences and contact.
“I have been giving scholarship to people but nobody from here has benefitted.
“My Sports Development Fund will give N10 million for 90 athletes who will be going to next Olympics but it has to be on merit, so try to be part of it,” she said.
In his remark, Mr Oli thanked the governor for receiving the athletes while promising that sports under the commission would progressively get better.
He showered encomium on the athletes and coaches and assured them of more reward in the future.