The 21st Edition of the National Sports Festival kicked off yesterday amidst celebrations. The opening ceremony which was held at the Stephen Keshi Stadium formally welcomed over 11,000 athletes from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to Delta State, where they would battle for honours in different sporting events for over 14 days.
The host Governor, Sen. Dr. Okowa, welcomed the athletes and visitors to the state and assured them of a peaceful environment for the competition. He encouraged the athletes, who have spent several months preparing for the event, to break and create new records which would further push Nigeria’s sports to new frontiers.
“I want to encourage our athletes who after several months of preparation would be put to rigorous test, to create and break new records to ensure that our sports is further pushed to new frontiers”.
The Governor noted that the festival was not just a breeding ground for new talents, but also an avenue of making new friends and bridging the gap of unity.
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Okowa also used the opportunity to thank members of the Local Organising Committee, for taking pains to ensure that the aspirations of the Sports Council are met, to make the event a success.
The Festival was officially declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare.
Part of the events that marked the opening ceremony included the calisthenics performance of over 500 pupils who performed the traditional dance of the major ethnic groups in the country, oath taking ceremony by athletes, lighting of the torch of unity and the March past by the contingents.
Dignitaries present at the ceremony include the Governors of Edo, Sokoto and Bayelsa States.
The opening ceremony also featured perfomances by Ruger, Harrysong and Bella Shmurda.
Meanwhile, team Delta began her title defence in style, by clinching Gold in cycling, which was done earlier in the day.