By Kate Obi/Kaduna
About 360 athletes are to participate in seven sporting events which include: the traditional tug of war, football, athletics, karate, shooting, table tennis and tennis in the Third Edition of the One Service One Medal (OSOM) Games in Kaduna.
The event which commenced today, 2nd of December, 2018, is scheduled to take place in several venues, including the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Murtala Mohammed Square.
Speaking at a Press Briefing, the Director, Grassroots Sports Development, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Dr. Ademola Are said OSOM games were introduced by the ministry to hunt for talents because the military and Para military have been a source of podium success in the past for the country.
“That was why the ministry sought synergy to tap into available talents from the service personnel,” he said.
He explained that in spite of challenges, they have been able to continue hosting the games.“We have been having challenges, but with our zeal, we are ensuring the game does not die, the economic situation notwithstanding.
“The athletes shall be participating in seven sporting events which include: the traditional tug of war, football, athletics, karate, shooting, table tennis and tennis,” he added.
On while some of the services are absent from the games, he said, they made their position known earlier, blaming the security challenges bedeviling the country.
“The security of the nation is important and the personnel are over stretched so some apologized for not being able to participate as a result of being over stretched in security operations across the country,” he said.
On the impact of the games from the first two editions, Dr. Are said some athletes have been discovered. “We have been discovering athletes and some of them have represented us internationally,” he stressed.
He pointed out that Nigeria cannot win medals if it do not have a stream of athletes to take over from the present crop.
“To prepare an athlete, you will require a minimum of N20m. What we are spending on athletes is still peanuts. You can’t use four years in training an athlete for Olympics,” he noted.
The Director Grassroots Sports Development decried the practice in Africa whereby sports development is left solely to the government.
“We are Nigerians and sports not only in Nigeria, but Africa are solely sponsored by the government, which is really unfortunate,” he lamented.
Reacting to the long absence of the National Sports Festival (NSF), the Director said it was the host state that could not complete its venues.
“One of the objectives of NSF is to give states opportunity to develop facility. It took long because the state supposed to host kept shifting the goal post. We had to shift it to Abuja I can assure you, the festival would hold” he assured.
Responding to the issue of civilians represents some of the military or Para military outfits, he dismissed it as a non issue.
“Once you belong to a service, you are eligible to take part. You don’t have to be a uniform wearing. Most of these services use sports to recruit. If there is any,” he pointed out.
He appreciated the efforts of the media in coverage of activities of the ministry while commending the media towards promoting sporting activities across the country and seek the media support as the OSOM games progress.