The Delta State Local Government Sports Festival has received the endorsement of top sports icons, who described it as meaningful grassroots sports development in Nigeria.

The programme scheduled for January 14 to 20 at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, and the Ozoro Polyphonic Stadium, Ozoro, to feature only non-contact athletic events is conceived by the Delta State chapter of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), to support the state in the discovery of young talents as well as stimulation of mass participation in sports for public health, unity and friendship across communities.

Ace sports broadcaster and Africa Zone President of the International Association of the Sporting Press, AIPS, Mitchel Obi, was all praises for Delta ALGON for the initiative.

“When the United Nations came up on planning the benchmarks of development goals which countries need to attain, they identified sports as a catalyst, as a veritable enabler to meet and match the sustainable development goals. So if you have the umbrella body of local governments identifying with sports at the grassroots level within an environment which overtime has proven to be hunting ground for talents for the country, then it is a direction that should be well celebrated. It should be saluted that their vision is right, that they are thinking with their caps fully on.

“And that gives us a lift that the time has come for local governments to begin to understand that they can use sports to meet the demands of development within their area, that we can use sports as an engine for fast tracking not only our development but for also bringing together our people, understanding our cultural differences and using the strength of those differences to forge ahead as a nation. The impact is not only intact, it is enduring. It is something that we must cherish. That is why I find the Delta State Local Government Sports Festival something to behold.”

Welcoming the idea, former President of the Nigerian Olympians Association and silver medalist in 400m hurdles at the 1988 African Athletics Championships and the Barcelona 1989 Athletics World Cup, Henry Amike, said it will mean so much in the life of young persons and for social harmony.

“This programme is a very strategic social investment. It will impact greatly on the younger generation and help in curbing crime, in bringing government closer to the people and bringing the people closer to themselves, and once a people are close to themselves it creates social harmony.

“The purpose of sports, to me, is for interaction and exchange of ideas. Apart from running, jumping throwing or playing football, you meet new people, exchange pleasantries, make friends, get information and information is power.

“The young ones will be the biggest beneficiaries. This is the age when they are trying to plan their future, thinking about what to do and the more people you meet, the more ideas you get that can create an impression for your life. For those of us who have gone though this process when we were youngsters, it helped us to get to where we are today. I pray that they sustain it because with two age categories for men and women I know it will be huge financial demand.

“Thankfully, you have UBA and Levant Construction as sponsors and it is also very reassuring that the Governor is in tacit support. I know him as a working Governor who has done so much for sports development and I am sure he will continue to do the same especially now that his local governments have decided to take the bull by the horn.”