With barely two months to the commencement of the 19th National Sports Festival, tagged ‘Edo 2020’ slated to hold in the ancient city of Benin, Team Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are jittery over the delay by the Muhammad Musa Bello-led administration to release funds for their participation at the biannual championship.
Team FCT is yet to commence any preparatory exercise as the authorities are adamant about the plight of the team in spite of the athletes’ threat to dump FCT and compete for other states during the biannual national championship.
Stakeholders had decried the unpleasant experiences Team FCT was subjected in past festivals including the last edition held in Abuja as well as the just recently concluded National Youth Games in Ilorin and called on the FCTA authorities to commence preparations ahead of time so as to avoid a repeat of the ugly experience in Edo.
Danjuma Audu, Secretary, FCT Aquatic Association (AA) said early preparation remains one of the important tools to improve on the performance of the Team FCT at the forthcoming National Sports Festival in Edo.
“We do not want what happened in the 2018 festival to repeat in 2020 in Edo State. I, therefore, appeal to the FCTA, FCT Social Development, and FCT Sports Council to commence immediate preparation and release of funds for athletes to raise the name of FCT high in Edo come to 2020 NSF”.
“I am calling on FCTA to please release the fund for early and better preparation. We don’t want the experience of 2018 where athletes were left with no option than to protest before their allowances were paid to them”.
“In 2018, there were a lot of unpleasant stories regarding the welfare of Team FCT athletes as many resorted to carrying placards in protest of non-payment of camp allowances”.
“We do not want these experiences anymore. Sports should be given priority attention and necessary funds should be released on time for effective camping, preparations, and performance. FCT has all it takes to challenge Delta, Lagos, Rivers and other big states for a top position on the medal table,” he said.
Audu, who spoke to our correspondent on the sideline of the recently concluded Swim Nigeria Annual Swimming Championship, held in Abuja, blasted FCTA for not doing enough to support sports development. He said that Abuja as a federal capital city lacked the necessary facilities to support sports development and called on corporate organizations and well-to-do individuals to support sports development, saying that the government cannot do it alone.
The National Sports Festival was evolved to foster unity and help unearth new talents in the country. Described as Nigeria’s Olympics, it has produced prominent athletes for the country who had won the continental and global medals for the country.