The Kogi state athletes billed to represent the state at the 7th edition of the National Youth Games, have become stranded in Lokoja, the state capital.
The hopes of the athletes participating in this year’s competition scheduled to hold on Asaba, Delta state, are gradually fading away due to the delayed release of funds by the Kogi State Government.
Some of the athletes, observed by our correspondent on Wednesday at the Lokoja Confluence Stadium, expressed frustration and disappointment over the situation.
They were seen roaming around the length and breadth of Kogi State Confluence Stadium, hoping to hear the news that money has been released for them to travel to Asaba, Delta State, in the South South of Nigeria.
Speaking under the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak, one of the athletes said it would amount to total disgrace if Kogi State fails to participate in this year’s competition.
According to him, athletes have been training for several weeks to ensure they bring laurels to Kogi State.
He, however, appealed to Kogi State Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello to urgently do the needful by releasing funds for the athletes to go and participate in the youth competition
“Kogi State athletes have been preparing for several weeks for this year’s competition. But to our greatest dismay, our preparation might be fruitless due to the recent development that there is still no money for us to travel for the competition. Who have we offended? They should forgive us
“It will be a slap on our face if, in the end, Kogi athletes fail to compete in this year’s youth game. With our level of preparation, we are very confident that Kogi State will surpass previous records in this tournament.
“If we fail to make it on this trip by tomorrow, Thursday, that means it is over. There is no way we can participate in this year’s competition. I am using this medium to appeal to Governor Yahaya Bello to release funds for us to participate in this year’s tournament. The competition is just one day away. Being stranded in Lokoja due to lack of money does not speak well for our dear State,” he stated.
The Kogi State Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, Hon. Idris Musa, had recently stated during an interview with journalists that Kogi State is fully prepared for this year’s youth game.
However, he failed to disclose if funds had been released for Kogi State to participate in the competition.
All efforts to speak with the Kogi State Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development proved abortive as of the time of filing this report.
He failed to pick up or respond to text messages sent to his phone lines.
It was, however, observed that a total of 71 athletes are expected to represent Kogi State in the 10-day sporting event in Asaba.
The sports in which Kogi State athletes will participate are athletics, badminton, cricket, boxing, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, shooting, weightlifting, wrestling, beach volleyball and judo.
The Federal Ministry of Sports Development had announced September 20–30, 2023, as the new date for the 7th edition of the National Youth Games, which will be held in Asaba, Delta State.