Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung says the Federal Government is currently embarking on sports `revolution’ with a view to using it as a tool for economic development of the country.
Dalung made the assertion in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mrs Nneka Anibeze, on Monday in Abuja.
According to the statement, the minister made the remark after Nigeria’s wrestling team retained their title as African champions at the just concluded African Senior Wrestling Championship held at the weekend in Hammamet, Tunisia.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria won 6 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze medals to retain their title and were also adjudged the best women’s wrestling team in Africa.
2014 Commonwealth gold medalist Odunayo Adekuoroye was also named best female wrestler.
Dalung who expressed delight in the team’s outing also praised the Federation for always making Nigeria proud.
“I congratulate the wrestlers and the Federation especially, for all your hard work.
“ I thank you all for your perseverance in the face of serious financial challenges as you did not allow that to deter your performance. Your individual efforts will not go unnoticed.
“I also commend Champion Igali for ensuring that the Nigerian flag is always hoisted at local and international competitions whenever there is a wrestling competition,’’ Dalung said.
He said the feat was an indication of the ongoing revolution in sports in the country, both administratively and in the output of athletes.
He expressed optimism that in no distant time, Nigeria would be a force to reckon with, not only in Africa but globally.
The minister, however, lamented the fact that funding still posed a great challenge to sports in Nigeria.
“We appeal to the National Assembly to make adequate budgetary allocations to sports. Sports is no longer a pursuit of leisure but a benchmark for social change and for industrial innovation.
“This year is a very busy year. We have the African Games in Morocco, Basketball World Cup in China, 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers,
“We also have the Women’s World Cup in France, the Africa Cup of Nations and so many more.
“All these need heavy funding. We are appealing to NASS to appropriate adequate funds for Nigeria’s sportsmen and women to compete without hindrance in these upcoming competitions,” he said.
NAN reports that the wrestling team is expected back on Tuesday evening aboard Turkish airlines while the ministry will hold a reception for the team at a date to be announced soon.