Ahead of the forthcoming National Sports Festival scheduled to take place in Asaba, Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development Niger State, Hon. Yusuf Suleiman has advised state athletes to shun the use of performance-enhancing drugs, banned substances and be morally upright.
Suleiman gave the warning while addressing the athletes at the state handball complex in Minna while declaring open a training camp exercise for the athletes as part of preparations for the bi-annual multi-sports fiesta.
He warned the athletes to stay away from drugs because it will not give them any advantage but rather harm them and also hinders their development in their respective sports.
“Stay free, be active and be passionate about the sport you do,” he said.
The Commissioner who disclosed that he was deployed to the ministry about a month ago, saw that there was no camping programme in the list of activities for the festival, and felt it will be improper to participate in such a national event without camping.
He observed that the camping exercise will afford the athletes a better training opportunity and prepare fully for the event, urging the athletes to make good use of the camping exercise to equip themselves with relevant skills that will enable them to compete favourably in the festival.
“I want to urge you to make good use of this training exercise to train hard and develop yourself so that we will be proud of you all at the end of it. Make use of this opportunity to get yourself properly prepared for this outing. Try and make this camping exercise a personal development programme for yourself and the state.”
He disclosed that funds for the camping were sourced outside the state government pocket and appealed to the athletes to appreciate the little camping allowances they can afford, adding that they intended to make it a close camping exercise but for lack of funds they decided to make it an open one.
The Commissioner also announced that each athlete will be given a daily allowance of N2000, while the coaches will be given N3000 to take care of their transportation and some other logistics, revealing that the training will be morning and evening sessions and that he and other management staff of the ministry will create time to go round the training venues to see how the athletes were faring.
He also assured the athletes that the state Governor will interact with them and give his blessings before their departure for the festival, saying they were already making arrangements for that.
Also, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Comrade Yunusa D. Tanimu said the ministry felt it was high time they shift away from the former practice of going to national events without the usual camping exercise, adding that for lack of funds they wanted to make it close camping and urged the athletes to appreciate the effort.
Responding on behalf of the athletes, Femi Tunji who will be participating in the handball event for the state, appreciated the Commissioner and other management staff of the ministry as well as the state government for the gesture, promising that they will do their best to ensure that the state competes favourably in the festival.
Niger State is expected to participate in the festival with about 96 athletes.