By Ogochukwu Isioma in Benin City
The Edo State Government, on Tuesday, inaugurated the state’s Secondary School Games Committee in line with the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration’s commitment to grassroots sports development.
The 12-man committee is headed by the Chairman, Edo State Sports Commission, Yussuf Alli with the Commissioner for Education, Dr. Joan Osa-Oviawe (co-chairperson) and Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, and Commissioner for Youth and Humanitarian Affairs, Andrew Emwanta as members.
Other members of the committee are Commissioner for Health, Prof. Obehi Akoria; Permanent Secretary, Edo State Sports Commission, Mrs. Sabina Chikere; Commissioner of Police, CP Mohammed Dankwara; Chairman SUBEB, Mrs. Ozavize Salami; Dr. Kweku Tandoh; Mr. Osawe Osagie; Dr. Emmanuel Igbinosa and Barr. Osayaba Osarenren.
Inaugurating the Committee, the Deputy Governor, Rt. Hon. Comr. Philip Shaibu, charged the team to be diligent and committed to their duty and not betray the trust reposed on them by the government and people of Edo State.
He said, “You’re aware of the mandate of the state governor to bring sports back to its native land, Edo State, and produce 10,000 athletes in 5 years so that those issues that are associated with backwardness as far as sports are concerned in Nigeria are written off.
“The governor has charged us that we must produce more athletes that will not just set but break records and that is the only way we can go to tournaments, both national and international.
“When Nigeria was Nigeria, winning laurels, most of the people that were representing this country were Edo indigenes. Sadly, Edo State also contributed to where we are today in the country in terms of sports because the state went to sleep for two to three decades and stopped producing athletes that will represent our country.”
Shaibu added “Today, we go to a tournament, no hope of winning any medal, and our sons and daughters born abroad are the ones representing our country in sports tournaments. What happened to our indigenous boys and girls? What happened to our grassroots sports development? This is the country we have found ourselves in, where our local players cannot meet up to the challenge.
“We have, in Edo State, decided not to lament but to recreate the engine room of sports in Nigeria, revamp the sporting architecture and activities in Edo State.”
Speaking on the link between sports and education, the deputy governor added, “We discovered that sports and education should be married together. It enhances our mental stability, and physical well-being and at the same time, helps to exhibit the God-given talents and skills we have.”
He further noted, “The governor has mandated us to develop sports, merging and making sure education is in the forefront to provide second office and broader perspectives for our teeming young sports boys and girls. So, we must all put our hands on deck.
“We are very clear on what we want to do, to make Edo State continue to produce athletes for other states and countries who are not able to do what we want to do.”
“The Edo State Government has invested a lot in physical infrastructure (sport), second to none in this country, and the only way we can maintain these facilities is by injecting life into them, starting with merging games/sports with education,” he noted.