*Set up first National Athletics Devt Centre
Ondo State government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigeria Sports Development Funds Incorporated (NSDFI) and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria to establish the first of six National Athletics Development Centre in the country.
Ondo State Youth and Sports Commissioner, Hon. Saka Yusuf Ogunleye signed the MoU on behalf of the state government while the Director General of NSDFI, Olajide Fashikun and the President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau also appended their signatures to the contractual papers.
In his speech, Hon Ogunleye reiterated the desire of the state to revive sports in the state starting with naming of the six communities to benefit from the new grassroots sport initiative with the aim of also generating funds for the state if the sector is properly managed.
Ogunleye in the brief ceremony held in Abuja further disclosed that the state government will soon establish a Sports Academy in the state and that a site has already been identified by the government for the project while calling on other states in the country to emulate the Sunshine state in paying more attention to sports development in their locality.
Speaking earlier, Olajide Fashikun, disclosed that the project will produce the next generation of Olympic medallists for the nation in the next few years.
According to him, “all hands are on deck to give 90 athletes from five different sports Olympic grants of N10million each to prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics from February 2018. It will be an unprecedented gesture in the country that will spur the athletes to adequately prepare for the Olympics.
AFN president, Hon Ibrahim Shehu-Gusau said, this partnership will help us reposition sports in the country. We are keen on producing the next generation of Olympics medallists for the nation by taking youths off the streets. He called on all Nigerians to support and emulate the lofty programme.
Executive Director (Technical) of NSDFI, Chief Mary Onyali promised that the future of athletics is bright in the country.
Present at the ceremony is the Zonal Director of Leadway Assurance Plc, Mr Allan Onifade. His company will be providing insurance for all amateur athletes in the five sports featuring on the NSDFI programme. From the 2019 season, all sports federations and amateur athletes in the nation will enjoy the cover.
Meanwhile, the community draws for the project will be conducted in January 2018 on a weekly basis. That is the major crux of where we expect to raise the funds with which we shall deliver the project. I can also reveal too that all funds raised shall be managed by a local governance structure. Each of the six benefitting communities nominated by the State Government as approved by Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Olurotimi
Akeredolu, shall play dominant roles. The project is designed to be driven by the communities themselves. Each of the communities shall participate and own the centres in their communities.
After four years, the NSDFI would have trained enough human resources to drive the programme for the benefit of their children and youths. While the various states in the zones shall manage the funds available to them to coordinate championships in age grade championships within their zone.