By Toyin Saheed
The fourth edition of the National Youth Games, which held at the Multi-purpose sports complex of the University of Ilorin has come and gone but the intrigues around it still linger in our memory.
The City of Ilorin in Kwara state was thrown into a sports fiesta of sort for about 10days as it played host to about 3800 Athletes drawn from 34 states of the Country who registered to participate in the 33 sports completed at the University of Ilorin complex, in the National Youths Games event.
The Director of Grassroots Sports Development, Dr. Demola Are revealed on how they arrived at 3800 athletes.
“We registered 3800 athletes to take part in this edition. We are doing this because we want to sensitize these little children, we want to give them opportunities to feel as many sports as possible so that when they grow older, they can now decide what they really want to do”.
He further stated that some of these athletes are not new to sports events and competitions, having taken part at the recently conclude All African Youth Games in Algeria. He concluded by saying “the Federal Government through the ministry have been very forth coming in terms of finance to encourage sports in Nigeria, being the sole financier of sports in Nigeria irrespective of other stake holders chip ins”
Responding to questions on the choice of University of Ilorin past years, Dr Are says “the University of Ilorin has been very forth coming in terms of facilities and up grading, the security is there, and standard of best practices of sports which has all the games taking place in the same venue”. He said this earned the institution five years MOU signing for the competition with the Ministry. This edition of the games was glamorous with the invitation of past DGs of the then National Sports Commission.
Meanwhile, at the third day of the competition on the 11 thSeptember, three sports, Gymnastics, Judo and wrestling concluded their games with Gold medal awards to Plateau State 49.20, Silver, Lagos state 43.80 and Bronze, Oyo state 41.70 in the Men Team Results gymnastics. Athletes who came outstanding in events Floor, Pommel and Vault includes Gold medals awarded to EnoEtim of Edo state. Silver went to Richard Adamu of Plateau state and ChianuEbuka of Ondo state had more of the Bronze.
The women Team Result saw Lagos state tops with Gold medal 96.20, Silver F.C.T 82.65 and Bronze Plateau state 76.60. Outstanding athletes Gold medals AbimbolaDisu Lagos state, MunachimObiefuna Silver F.C.T and Owolabi Kemi Ondo state Bronze in Vault, Beam and Floor.
The Judo event witnessed lots of arguments, disarray and disqualifications with the Secretaries of the Federations refusing to speak to the media on reasons for such disorganisation’s, fights and disorientation at the sports. The referees, security and judges had a hard time controlling the Fans, competitors and crowd with many receiving beatings they never envisage even while not competing at the games. The result for this sport is inconclusive.
Wrestling however at 42KG saw Joy C. IheSokoto state Gold, Peter Helen Delta Silver and Favour Onyinye Lagos Bronze in tally with Joy James Rivers also at Bronze.
54KG had EbikifunaTarilayefaBayelsa Gold, PreciliaItodoKogi Silver, Rhoda Austin Akwa-Ibom Bronze, in tally with Debora Sati Plateau state Bronze.
The 2018 edition was marred with the issue of accommodation of athletes, especially the state that arrived lately to the championship. The situation led to some states left the hotels and got themselves accommodation elsewhere.
Also, the fourth edition of the NYG came under threat by athletes deemed to be above the maximum age of 15 years for participants.
Past editions of the youth games were usually invaded by age cheats who connived with their states to participate in the games to the detriment of the aims and objectives of the founding fathers of the age-grade competition.
This has remained a worrisome development to the organisers of the games who are yet to fashion out a more reliable means of checking such unhealthy practice.
It will be recalled that prior to the commencement of the Games, the Director of Grassroots Sports Development in the ministry of sports, Dr.Ademola Are in a chat with Trust Sports had warned against age-cheating while revealing that every athlete must undergo the necessary screening to be eligible to contest at the age-grade games.
No fewer than 500 athletes disqualified by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports over age falsification while frowning at the attitude of states to present over aged players in the desperate bid to win laurels
Solomon Dalung while speaking to journalists expectedlly weighed in and blamed the issues of age cheating at various age-grade competitions on the long years of neglect of youth sports programme.
“The records of the discovery of over 500 overage athletes should not be the preoccupation now, let us not forget where we are coming from. The NYG was abandoned for some years meaning that those who were eligible to compete within those abandoned years were denied their right,” Dalung said.
“So, if we have such things happening now, it is a reflection of the neglect. Talents that were not given the opportunity to express themselves and they have the zeal and determination can lead to what we see as age malpractice,”
The 4th edition of NYG commenced on September 7 and scheduled to end September 16 with over 3,800 athletes participating.
Did You Know?
The 2018 National Youth Games (NYG) is the first edition pegged at the age of 15 years. In the three previous editions it has always been Under 17 years categories.
31 states registered for this year’s NYG, the five missing states are as follows; Ondo, Edo, Yobe, Zamfara and Anambra states.
As at today, Sunday September 9th, 2018 twenty three states are already on ground undergoing screening exercise at the Unilorin Multipurpose hall while other eight states are on their way .
Screening is done physically by looking at the faces of the athletes by the screening committee of the Local Organising Committee.
Lagos state participates this year after missing two consecutive editions.
Team Lagos registered for 5 team sports among which are; handball (boys and girls), Basketball (girls), beach volleyball (girls)
States participating in Para-powerlifting sport will be allowed to field over age athletes.
The opening ceremony of the 2018 National Youth Games will take place on Monday 10th September 2018 and not Saturday 7th