Sports Ministry Bows To Pressure, Relists Para sports For 2022 Sports Festival
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By Amaechi Agbo
Nigeria’s ministry of youth and sports have bowed to pressure and relisted para sports among events to be competed for in the 2022 National Sports Festival, NSF.
The Nigeria’s “Olympic Games” will hold in Asaba, Delta State in December
In a press statement on Monday signed by Mr Mohammed Manga, Director, Press and Public Relations, noted that the decision to relist para sports was arrived at during a virtual meeting of the National Sports Council.
“Sequel to the Virtual Meeting of the National Council on Sports held on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, where the decision was taken to remove Para Sports from the 21st NSF, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, in consultation with Stakeholders in Sports hereby relists the following Para Sports to the National Sports Festival in Delta State: Para Athletics, Para Table Tennis, Para Powerlifting and Deaf Sports of (Athletics and Table Tennis).
“However, the Ministry wishes to state that their events will be limited to where Nigeria has competitive advantages.
“This decision was taken in the overall interest of Sports Development in Nigeria, as the National Sports Festival has become the Flagship Games for the discovery, grooming and empowerment of our youth athletes.”
The Ministry “condemned” the behaviour of some “misguided athletes” who engaged in unwarranted acts of protests and blackmail without recourse to due process.
“These actions which led to the disturbance of public peace and the good image of Sportsmen and women, especially with the recent public acceptance of the superlative performance of Team Nigeria at the 2022 Commonwealth Games is a breach of our Sports Ethical Code.
“The Ministry wishes to state further that it will apply the rules in dealing with such acts in due course. Athletes must learn to follow the due process laid down for resolving issues.
“The facts about this administration’s commitment to the upliftment of the Para Athletes and Parasports are in the public domain, well documented.
“Para Athletes are therefore, advised to henceforth exhaust the channels of communication and processes laid down for airing grievances, rather than resort to public disturbance,” the statement concluded.
Special sports athletes on Monday last week staged protests in Lagos and Benin City over their exclusion from the forthcoming 2022 National Sports Festival in Delta State.
In Lagos, Para-athletes blocked the entrance to the National Stadium, Surulere, causing gridlock on the Ojuelegba-Iponri road. The athletes carried placards conveying different messages, and called on the sports minister Sunday Dare not to exclude them from the biennial festival.
In Benin City, the Edo State capital, deaf sports athletes, led by coach Sunny Aimufua, staged a protest march to the Nigerian Union of Journalists complex, faulting the ministry’s decision to make deaf sports optional, as against the permanent status it enjoyed before now.
The athletes stormed the secretariat of the NUJ (Nigeria Union of Journalists) in their numbers, carrying placards with different inscriptions.
Some of the inscriptions include “The Deaf are human beings, so treat us as one”, “Deaf and hearing people are one”, “No more depriving of the deaf of their rights” and “Minister of Sports should please come to our rescue.”
The festival holds from November 28 to December 10.