The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Sports, Paul Bassey said the mission of the state is to help develop talents and expose athletes during the National Youth Games in Ilorin.
Paul Bassey told www.aclsports.com that the governor of the state has emphasised on the need for grassroots developmental programs.
Etubom Bassey said Awa Ibom is not desperate to cart away gold medals but to compete in the spirit of competition and see how to produce golden athletes that would in the next five or six years represent this country in international competitions.
He said, “It is not about target, but I thank the Governor For the opportunity given to the youths since he came on board. He has emphasised the need for grassroots development; those of us who are old enough to know what happened 20 to 30 years ago, Nigeria had stars in a spheres, but now during international competition one hardly hear Nigeria.
“The state governor through his wisdom approved the state sports festival which is held yearly; the third one is suppose to hold this year but we had clash in date with some political activities. So, for us to come here, first of all we have exposed the youths, and then we can nurture them”.
He further said, “I am saying if we do not win a gold, silver or bronze, we are happy because the youths that we brought here would have learnt something. But after the whole thing, we will have so much back home to develop them on.
“Just like the National sports festival that a 13 year old won the 400m gold, so if we can have like two more of that, there is hope for this country. So, we are here to compete in the spirit of competition and secondly to see how we can help to produce golden athletes that would in the next five or six years represent this country in international competitions”.
He revealed that the state has programs lined up for athletes who perform well during the National Youth Games.
Bassey said, “We have post-games programs for the young athletes since they are in schools, we bring them together during holidays to tutor them. Now we have 3 athletes who are on scholarship in the United State, that’s developmental. So, we track them and also develop the coaches so that they will be well trained.
“There is no youth that will win here or at the state sports festival that we will not be encouraged to train. We are not all meant to be doctors or professor, some will feed through sports, and the state has to support the athletes. We will try and do better in terms of discovery of athletes. Two years ago, Awa Ibom finished second, last year, we were 5th, this year I see us surpassing what we used to have”.