Cross River State governor, Liyel Imoke has urged his would-be successors not to jettison his grassroots sports development programme that has made the State a powerhouse in youth sports competitions in the country.
The governor who was speaking in Calabar last Thursday night during a reception for the State’s athletes who won medals at the 2012 National Sports and School Sports Festivals, said that Cross River is now a dominant factor in Nigerian sports and it will be good to sustain the programme being coordinated by former Nigerian quarter-miler, Bruce Ijirigho.
“To have the idea is one thing, and to use it in overcoming challenges and producing young men and women who would exhibit potentials to become greater human beings, is another thing.
The state has produced champions with the introduction of our aggressive sports developments programme. We have consistently dominated the National School Sports Festival for three years. Today, Cross River has become a household name in sports. There is a need for us to continue with the programme,” said the governor, who doled cash worth N38m to the athletes.
Speaking during an interview, Dr. Ijirigho stated that Cross River has a large pool of grassroots athletes and within the next five years, these athletes will dominate the national scene. He looked forward to an era where the private sector will partner with the State government to fund the programme.
Cross River won 12 gold, 14 silver and 23 bronze medals to place 8th at the at Eko 2012. It also won a total of 268 medals to emerge tops on the medals table at the National School Sports Competition, held in Port-Harcourt that same year. Cross River also won the maiden National Youth Games held in Abuja last December.
And as the State prepare to host the 2014 National Sports Festival, youth and sports commissioner, Mr Patrick Ugbe, assured that the Cross River’s representatives will surpass their previous achievements.