BENIN CITY – Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo has urged all athletes at the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) tagged “Edo 2020” not to forget to exhibit the spirit of good sportsmanship.
Obaseki gave the charge on Tuesday while speaking during the opening ceremony of the festival at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin.
“I urge you to put in your best, be good sportsmen and acknowledge when you have been beaten by your peers.
“Please compete fairly in the games and show us all the products of the many hours you spent practising to be the best in what you do.
“On this ground, you will reap the reward of hardwork and perseverance and determination through your performance and conduct so that you can be the real models for other youths in Nigeria.
“For what else is the purpose of this games if it’s not to test and produce the best among us.
“The National Sports Festival has a very unique history which is deeply rooted in the sad experiences of the Nigerian Civil War of the late 60s.
“The first edition was held to bring our different peoples together to compete and find purpose in a bond that hold us together as brothers and sisters.
“Today, our country is in dire need of peace, tolerance and brotherhood. That is why we felt the necessity to hold this games in spite of the challenges.
“So that we can rekindle the vision of our past leaders in the quest for excellence, friendship and respect, particularly among the youths of our nation.
“We have completely rebuilt this edifice (Ogbemudia Stadium) in line with our vision of reenacting Edo as the epicentre of sports activities in Nigeria.
“It has a main bowl, a state-of-the-art pitch and tartan tracks and one of the best gymnasiums in Africa and the only one with a suspended gym and warm-up floor.
“It has five lawn tennis courts, an Olympic-size swimming pool and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) equipment, among others.”
The governor commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his faith in Edo and keeping to his promise to ensure that the games was held in spite of the initial hiccups it suffered.
Earlier, the Edo Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, had welcomed all athletes to the state, and charged them to enjoy the hospitality of the state.
“The people of Edo are good people and law-abiding citizens,” Shaibu, who is Chairman of the festival’s Local Organising Committee (LOC), said.