By Daniel Idonor
ABUJA—AS President   Umaru Yar’Adua yesterday hosted world football icon and legend, Brazilian Edson Arantes De Nascimeto, popularly known as Pele, the Nigerian Government  announced its intention to float a sports development plan so as to harness the country’s great sports potential.

PELE, ROGGE MEET YAR’ADUA.......From left, Frankie Fredricks; Sam Ramsamy; President Brasilian Olympic Committee, Edison Arantes do Nascimento a.k.a Pele; President, International Olympic Committee, Dr. Jacques Rogge; President Umaru Yar’Adua; Sports Minister, Engr. Sani Ndanusa; ANOCA President, Gen. Lassana Pelengo and the President Nigerian Olympic Committee, Engr. Habu Gumel, during the courtesy visit by a delegation of the International Olympic Committee to the President at the State House on Tuesday. Photo: Abayomi Adeshida.

Pele, who was the toast of everyone at the State House, was one of the members of a delegation of the International Olympic Committee which was led by its President, Mr. Jacques Rogge, on a courtesy visit to the Nigeria leader.
Speaking at the occasion, Yar’Adua said the Federal Government would implement a comprehensive sports development programme in the country.

The programme, according to him, would involve the provision of sports facilities in all the communities and local government councils, capacity building as well as funding; and would be  developed by the National Sports Commission.

He explained that the development of sports was for a long time ignored in Nigeria and other African countries.
“We have realised this and we are now going to ensure massive investment in sports development”, he said.
While “investment in sports is like investment in education”, the President stressed that Nigeria would share the programme with other African countries, and would require partnership with the IOC and other international bodies.
YarÁdua also pledged his administration’s support for the IOC.

Commenting on Pele, Yar’Adua said, “In any human endeavour, God produces a wonder; and that is what he has done in Pele”.

Speaking earlier, Rogge thanked Nigeria for accepting to host the headquarters of ANOCA.
“The IOC would support all the efforts of Africa, particularly Nigeria”, Rogge said.


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