The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has pledged to ensure better welfare and exposure for budding athletes in a bid to further develop athletics in the country.
The minister made the pledge on Saturday in Akure at the All-Comers Track and Field Competition held at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA).
Reports that the competition was organised by the Olamide George-led board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN).
The minister noted that the competition would go a long way in improving the game of track and field in the country.
“With this competition, only the best will represent Nigeria,’’ Dare, who was represented at the event by his Special Adviser on Media, John-Joshua Akanji, said.
He, however, pointed out that the welfare of athletes was paramount to the Federal Government.
Sunday Dare commended the George-led board for taking as a priority the welfare of athletes, especially in the provision of accommodation for all competitors at the event.
“This event is very exciting, very interesting, and this is a new dawn for athletics in Nigeria, especially as the interest is in the welfare of the athletes.
“I thank the Olamide George-led board for a job well done.
“I mean it with all sense of responsibility, without flattery, that this is the first time in a long while that competitors at an athletics event were accommodated and I believe this is a very good event.’’
The minister noted that the competition meant the sports family was reawakening what used to be the tradition when there was a National Sports Festival (NSF) in an Olympic year.
“This is an All-Comers affair, a situation where athletes that may be or would not have been given an opportunity can cause upset, create some excitement and before you know it, they are up there,” Sunday Dare said.
Speaking at the event, George thanked the minister for keying into the roadmap of the federation ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
He said the AFN under his leadership was running an open door policy.
“The athletes believe in all the processes that will lead to the selection of athletes who will represent the country at the Olympics.’’
Speaking also, the Commissioner for Youths Development and Sports in Ondo State, Dotun Owanikin, said he was happy with the choice of the state for the competition.
Owanikin said the state government would take a lot of positives from the event ahead of the upcoming NSF, revealing that the state’s athletes had been in camp ahead of the festival.
NAN reports that the second leg of the All-Comers event will hold in Ado-Ekiti in two weeks time.