By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – No fewer than 360 athletes and officials are participating in the third edition of the One Service One Medal, (OSOM) Games in Kaduna, taking place in several venues, including the Ahmadu Bello Stadium and Murtala Mohammed Square.
Director, Grassroots Sports Development, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Dr. Ademola Are, disclosed while briefing newsmen at the Media Centre of Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna on Sunday.
He said that OSOM was introduced by the ministry to hunt for talents because the military and para military have been a source of podium success in the past for the country; adding that in spite of challenges, they have been able to continue hosting the games.
“That was why the ministry sought synergy to tap into available talents from the service personnel.
“We have been having challenges, but with our zeal, we are ensuring that OSOM does not die, the economic situation not withstanding,” he said.
Dr. Are explained further that feature seven sporting events, including the traditional tug of war, football, athletics, karate, shooting, table tennis and tennis all will be medals winning.
“Karate has commenced this morning and has been concluded,” he said.
Responding to incident that happened during Karate event, Dr. Are said that there are medical personnel are on ground and what happened at the karate was a fracture of the finger and there was nothing they could do but First Aid, after which the athlete was taken to Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital.
On the absence of some services from the games, he said that they made their position known earlier, blaming the security challenges bedeviling the country.
“The security of the nation is important and the personnel are over stretched so some apologized for not being able to participate as a result of being over stretched in security operations across the country,” he said.
On the impact of the games from the first two editions, he said that some athletes have been discovered; noting that Nigeria cannot win medals if it doesn’t have a stream of athletes to take over from the present crop.
“We have been discovering athletes and some of them have represented us internationally.
“To prepare an athlete, requires a minimum of N20m. What we are spending on athletes is still peanuts. You can’t use four years in training an athlete for Olympics,” he said.
Dr. Are decried the practice in Africa where sports development is left solely to the government.
“Sports not only in Nigeria, but Africa is solely sponsored by the government and this is really unfortunate,” he lamented.
On why it took long for the National Sports Festival, (NSF) to hold, he said that it was the host state that could not complete its venues.
“One of the objectives of NSF is to give states opportunity to develop facility. It took long because the supposed host kept shifting the goal post. We had to shift it to Abuja and I can assure you, the festival would hold” he assured.
Responding to the issue of civilians representing some military or para-military outfits, he dismissed it as a non issue.
“Once you belong to a service, you are eligible to take part. You don’t have to be on uniform. Most of these services use sports to recruit if there is any,” he pointed out.
He appreciated the efforts of the media in coverage of activities of the ministry.
“The sports ministry and the media must work together. We want to appreciate members of the media and we say a big thank you to you and hope the relationship will continue.
While extending condolences to the Assistant Secretary Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Kaduna State, he said, “We want to use this opportunity from the ministry to sympathise with Mr. Jacob Dickson, Online Editor of New Nigerian Newspaper who lost his mother recently, on behalf of our Minister, we express our condolences,” he said.
Also, the Zonal Secretary North West, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, (SWAN), Mr. Abdulraheem Aodu, thanked the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, for supporting the recently concluded Kaduna SWAN Secondary Schools Indoor Sports Competition and assured of continuous support and partnership with the ministry.
Other top dignitaries present at the briefing includes, Deputy Director, Liaison Officer of Lagos, Alhaji Bide Durotoye, Zonal Coordinator North West, Mr. Luke Olusola, and an Assistant Director of the ministry, Mr. Okeke.