James Ogunnaike, Abeokuta
Ogun State Goverrnor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, has said that the State would be branded to make it a reference point in sports development in the country.
The Goverrnor disclosed this in Abeokuta at the presentation of prizes to winners of the Abeokuta 10 Kilometres Marathon Race, said goverment would support and make Ogun the sports capital of Nigeria.
He said sports was beyond religion and one of the factors that binds the nation together.
He called on the youths to take to sports as a profession for wealth creation, poverty alleviation and for its health benefits.
The Goverrnor who presented prizes to the overall best male runner from Ethiopia, said a bigger race would be staged in Sagamu, congratulating the winners for their feats.
Goverrnor Abiodun described sports as a veritable tool that could unite the various ethnic groups in the country, if well harnessed.
The Goverrnor also noted when he received organising members of the Abeokuta 10 Kilometres Marathon Race, led by the former Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Bukola Olopade, that sports have the potentials of bringing every segment of the country into a united country.
“Sports is what Nigerians take seriously. It is a major unifying factor that should be encourage. Sports, apart from being a profession, also help in keeping people fit and healthy.
“When NIgeria is taking part in any sporting activities, be it athletic or football, Nigerians momentarily forget their differences and come together to support their team untill after the game when we go back to our different ways”, he stated.
Prince Abiodun described the State as, “home of Sports.* He explained that the state earned this haven produced eminent sports men and women, who had made the State and country proud.
He said that a Sports Commission, would be created to take sports to greater heights.
He stressed the need for youth to be encouraged to take part in sporting activities, as a means of livelihood, saying it would help them to be more discipline and shun social vices.
“When youths are encouraged to take part in sporting activities, it will help them to be more disciplined and take them off social vices. It will also help improve their academic performances”, he said.
While thanking the organisers for choosing the State for the event, the State helmsman, added that it would afford the State an opportunity to showcase its sporting and business potentials to the outside world as well as its hospitality and cultural heritage.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Bukola Olopade, said the State as the first to host such a race in NIgeria, thanking the State governernment for putting machineries in place for the success of the event.
Also speaking, the President, International Association of Ultrarunners, Mr. Nadeem Khan, acknowledged Nigerians enthusiasm and love for sports, saying that the Abeokuta event was the biggest marathon race to be staged in Africa.
The President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, lauded the State for accepting to host the marathon, saying that sports promote healthy living and “it is a source of income to the professionals.”
An Olympian, Mrs. Falilat Ogunkoya, said the State was blessed with renowned sports men and women, appreciating government for taking steps to revive sports in the State.