If the project went according to projections, the National Sports Festival would no longer experience a lacuna as suffered by the 19th edition of the event, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung has said.
The 19th National Sports Festival, which was supposed to hold in Calabar, Cross River State in 2014, was dogged by incessant postponement with the designated hosts claiming they had no more for the exercise. This prompted the Federal Government to decide to foot the bills and host the festival in Abuja in December.
Dalung on Wednesday signed an agreement with Greenfield Assets Limited to rebrand, repackage, market and deliver five editions of the National Sports Festival starting with the 19th edition.
Speaking while unveiling the Festival’s logo and mascot on Wednesday, Dalung revealed that a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), known as national Sports Festival Marketing and Management, has been set up to drive the process, noting with nostalgia that the hosting rights of the 19th edition of the Festival that was awarded to Cross River State suffered one postponement too many and could not be held in Calabar till date.
“The Federal Government, realising the collateral damage the non-organisation of the Festival portends for sports development in Nigeria, decided to take over the organisation and hosting of the Games in 2018 with Abuja as the Host City,” Dalung said, adding that he has since inaugurated the main organising committee (MOC) for the event, with 17 subcommittees also in place.
He assured that both the MOC and the subcommittees would ensure flawless delivery of the Festival.
Dalung regretted that the National Sports Festival since inception in 1973 had been organised without visible corporate sponsors, adding that he has charged the MOC on inauguration to rebrand and repackage the Festival to make it attractive to sponsors.
The previous host states determined the events that would feature in the festival based on their stronghold in those events, but Dalung said this year, 37 events would be featured with about 10,000 athletes and officials expected in the competition.
Dalung declined to disclose the amount the Federal Government would commit to the Festival, but he revealed that the zonal eliminations for team sports would hold simultaneously in the six geopolitical zones from October 8 to 13.
The events include Abula, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Cricket, Football and Handball. Others are Hockey, Para-Soccer, and Volleyball. Only one team is expected to qualify from each zone in each sport.
Dalung said a portal on the Festival website would be opened on September 17 to enable all participants register online for the Festival, adding that the SPV and the Ministry would organise a series of pre-Festival activities to sensitise Nigerians as well as create publicity and awareness for it.
Source: G Sport