Akintunde Akinola, the President of Nigerian Private Universities Games Association (NPUGA), on Wednesday in Abuja said their Games has the potential of producing future athletes for the nation.
Akinola said that most of the athletes participating in the Games have the potential to do better if better trained in their various sports.
He said student-athletes’ performance at this year’s edition of NPUGA, hosted by Turkish-Nile University in Abuja, showed that there were lots of potential among them.
“This year’s edition of NPUGA had 1,473 male and 620 female students from 22 private universities participating in 10 events.
“Even as the Games were organised to promote spirit of sportsmanship and exercise among students, some of them exhibited the potential of excelling globally in sports.
“I urge those in charge of sports in the country to show more interest in harnessing sports potential from national events like NPUGA,” Akinola said.
Similarly, Wole Oyerinde, Chairman of NPUGA’s Technical Committee, commended the students who took part in the Games.
“We had 2,093 athletes, made up of 1,473 male and 620 female students at the 2017 edition of NPUGA, and some of them have the potential to become national and international athletes.
“ Sports is a veritable tool for academic excellence. It also enhances mental and physical development of athletes.
“While NUGA (Nigerian Universities Games Association) has gone so far, NPUGA has come into being to reach the grassroots and those not reached, and then tap the hitherto-untapped sources of human resources we have in the country.
“Majority of NPUGA athletes are talented. Athletes are not made, they are born and it takes coaches with eagle eyes to identify such talents.
“NPUGA is a grassroots competition, and we are looking forward to a feeder’s stream to feed the state athletes and club athletes.
“This is to ensure that they can grow better in various sports and become national athletes. They can be discovered and trained for international competitions,” he said.
Also speaking, Oluwasogo Ojo, the Athletics Coordinator of NPUGA, said most of the students who took part in NPUGA were engaging in sports for the first time.
“But, with guidance, they showed huge potentials of excelling in such games.
“If they are selected for further training, Nigeria will surely improve its status in global athletics,” she said.
Princess Kara, a participant in the 2016 National Youth Games 2016 and silver medalist in triple jump at the 2017 NPUGA, also emphasised the need to harness potential at the Games.
“Some of us have not competed in any event before NPUGA, but their first time performances were not bad at all.
“With additional training, they can become national and international athletes,” she said.
On the benefits of the biennial competition to participants, Kara did not mince words.
“Everything at the competition was nice. The experience was really good. Meeting new friends from different schools was a delight.
“We also learnt a lot of things from one another and we were seeing ourselves as each other’s brother keeper, encouraging each other at the events,” she said.
Kara said she looked up to attending another NPUGA.
NPUGA comes up every two years for students of private universities in the country to compete with one another in various sports.
The 2017 edition was the seventh in the series of NPUGA and was won by Benson Idahosa University (BIU) of Benin.
BIU was followed by Afe Babalola University of Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) and Igbinedion University (IU) of Okada in Edo respectively.(NAN)