Ilorin – The National Sports Commission (NSC) said on Wednesday that the need to address structural deficiencies in the National Sports Festival (NSF) informed its proposal for a National Open Sports Festival.
The NSC made the remark in its memorandum presented at the meeting of the National Council on Sports in Ilorin.
The commission said that the NSF could no longer address the new challenges in sports performance, which it said, had a strong focus on young athletes.
According to the memorandum, most athletes prefer the sustainable welfare in the states regarding the NSF to the ‘temporary’ glory of representing the nation at international competitions, where they believe, nobody would remember them after the games.
It, therefore, said that the commission was seeking the approval of the council for a National U-17 Youth Games, as a new approach to athletes’ discovery and identification.
“The limit of three appearances in a particular sport, as enshrined in the regulations of the NSF, encourages athletes to migrate from one sport to the other, over 12 years, thereby depriving younger athletes the opportunity to emerge.
“There is also a significant disparity in the objectives and interests between the State Sports Councils and the NSC on the purpose that the NSF should serve,” it added.
Other reasons given were to establish a standard programme for athletes’ succession, curbing age cheats, enhancing cultural and educational development, and to promote national unity, among others.
It proposed that the Youth Games be open to amateur athletes under the age of 17 and should be held annually to serve as a platform for assembling athletes for mega Youth Games.
The commission, however, noted that the National Open Sports Festival should be a biennial event, for athletes within the country and in the diaspora.
It said that this was to serve as a platform for the selection of podium-level athletes for the All Africa Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
The commission submitted that the proposal was “to provide a qualitative and sustainable mechanism for early athletes’ discovery, as well as a national forum to showcase Nigeria’s best sportsmen and women. (NAN)