Coach Tunde Kazeem is Director of Sports, Kwara State Sports Council. In this interview with MIKE ADEYEMI, he speaks about the succeses recorded at the just concluded 7th Kwara Sports Festival as well as how the fiesta has revived sports glory of the state in the world map. Excerpts:
We just had Kwara Sports Festival after a long drought. How would you react to this?
I want to thank Almighty God for the enabling grace given us. Two, I want to thank His Excellency, the Governor of Kwara State, Mallam Abdulraham Abdulrasaq who helped us see the need to revives the sports fiesta knowing fully well that our youths are more engage in sports.
Sports is education, sports is business and a way of reducing anti vices in the society. So bringing back the festival after about 15 years is indeed a good omen for Kwara and it also shows thet good things await Kwara State and by extension Nigeria at large.
Having tapped athletes from across the 16 Local Goverments of Kwara State, I want to give it to the Governor and the ministry. This festival has come to stay and it will tow that of National Sports festival.
The MoC were well received throughout the state , this further gives an impetus that indeed the festival has come to stay. I want to thank our Royal Fathers and all the stakeholders for giving us their unalloyed suports.
How do you think the Kwara State Government can sustain this festival?
It has always been in the provision of the National Spots policy that all the States Government should have their own Sports Festival as a prelude to the National Sports Festival. And with this revival in Kwara, I am sure that the Governor will continue the tempo.
In fact, I must give it to the Governor. He came four times during the festival. He watched matches and he was satisfied with what he saw. I want to thank the Honorable Minister’s presence too. His presence added glamour to the events.
How many athletes were discovered during the event, and what is the readiness of Kwara for Edo 2020?
Like I said, the essence of this festival is to fish-out talents from the local governments in various games. And I want to give it to the local governments.
The end of a festival is the begining of another festival. So our athletes are ready, anytime from now we are ready.
We want other corporate bodies in the state to come to the aid of sports promotion. Sports is capital intensive and government cannot do it alone.
The presence of the Governor at the stadium has opened a window for us and he has said it categorically that the Indoor Sports Hall will wear a new look and that two new squarce courts will be put in place and the old one renovated.
The Governor took part in the first National Sports Festival in 1973, ditto his deputy. So the two of them knew the value sports portends.
Are you invariably saying Kwara is set for Edo 2020?
Yes we are set. Our athletes have been attending National competitions, various associations too have had series of events. We just needs to do little touches and get to go. People should come out and supports our athletes.
Would you say the just concluded Sports Festival has regig the place of Kwara in the global map?
Yes. In fact we are so impressed seeing people calling from outside Nigeria eulogising the Governor.
In terms of economic viability, Hotels were at their business peak. Busineses amid the stadium boomed and athletes too have had good time with themselves.
We hope the event will become an annual festival. It is mandatory that each states observe their festival prelude the National Sports Festival.
It it is a welcome development and I want to plead with the Governor for better welfare package for our athletes because what we produce at the state level is what we will give at the National level. If the state is distorted, it will have a replical effect on our performance.
How would you react to the case of athletes being surcharged at the last Kware Festival?
Yes. This festival has been off for 15 years, and reviving it now no doubt would come with its challenges in terms of logistics.
But we must vehemently thank the Governor of Kwara State, he stood there for us. Organising an events of this magnitudes would definitely come with hitches, but I think the vision and mission for staging the fiesta has been accomplished.