*As Gusau leads delegation to conclude arrangements
*Your business model unique – Hon Agboola Ajayi
By Oluwole Francis
Ondo State governor, Arakunrin Olurotimi Akeredolu, has promised to give every necessary support to enable her citizens acquire sports trainings that can make them rule the world in the nearest future including investing in infrastructural development as the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) sets up a centre in the state.
Arakunrin Olurotimi Akeredolu made this assertion in his office in Akure when the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) led by the President, Ibrahim Gusau, paid him a courtesy call towards establishing the National Athletics Development Centre in the state.
According to the governor, “sports has a massive social impact even beyond the values it brings on the economy. It is the greatest weapon to make our nation bigger and stronger. Your choice of Ondo state is not misplaced and will be maximized. We appreciate your decision and we look forward to the next generation of sports champions that will come out of this project.”
“I can report to you that some of the children that were beneficiaries of the last tennis clinic here have intensified their training and are improving daily. I look forward to many of them doing our nation proud within a short while. Coming from that background, I look forward to a plethora of stars coming from your project in no distant future.”
Speaking earlier, Hon Ibrahim Gusau, told his host, “I have been on the board of the AFN for nine years before being elected President. It has been a firm decision we had taken to return to the grassroots to search, discover, hone and support our athletes to stardom.
“The setting up of the south west centre in Ondo is instructive. The nation will have six such centres. We and our partners intend to work the mills in a unique fashion, make communities hosting us to be able to own, drive and propel the programme. We designed it in such a way that communities will play prominent roles in the delivery.”
“I am waiting to find better Lawrence Adegbehingbe, Seun Ogunkoya, Mary Akinyemi, Tosin Oke, Margaret Etim, Folashade Abugan, Peace Ukoh from this project,” the former House of Representatives member said.
Mr Olajide Fashikun thanked Governor Akeredolu for his vision when he stressed the importance of the initiative, saying that the time has come for stakeholders in sports to be creative about funding because it was no longer fashionable for government to fund sport all alone. “What’s responsible for the drawbacks in the nation’s sports was the failure of sports developers to discover talents at the grassroots. This project must be initiated at the grassroots and we must allow the community to drive it and own it, ”
Senior government officials in the state were present which included the Secretary to the State Government, Oludayo Abegunde, the Sports Commissioner Saka Yusuf Ogunleye, Chief of Staff Olugbenga Ale.
In an earlier meeting, the Deputy Governor, Hon Agboola Ajayi told his guests, “our people are desirous of sports development. It is true we inherited massive issues of governance when we got on board. I am happy that your project is a massive lift for the state government.
Hon Agboola Ajayi said “given your pedigree in the past and the expertise of your team which we had tasted in the state in the immediate past, we are too confident of the reception and warmth you will enjoy in the quest to bring a career hope for our children and youths. I am particularly thrilled by the business model you are employing to deliver the programme. This is unique and very commendable.”
During the initial visit to the commissioner, the chairman House of Assembly committee on sports, Hon Olamide George said, “My President sir, I am very prepared to work for the success of this project in our state. We are very committed. If there is any vote from Appropriation to help make this project work, I am prepared to help make it happen.”
Also on the entourage of the AFN President were the Secretary General Amechi Akawo, the Technical Director Sunday Adeleye and the troika from the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc (NSDFI) led by the Director General Olajide Fashikun, Executive Director (Technical) Chief Mary Onyali and Director Finance Fatai Adeshina.