Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi has charged all athletes who are to represent the state at the 2018 National Sports Festival to embrace the spirit of sportsmanship.
He gave the charge on Thursday while receiving the torch of unity in Ibadan, ahead of the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival scheduled to take place from December 6 to 16 in Abuja.
“I implore all our athletes to embrace the spirit of sportsmanship as they are going for the National Sports Festival. Our athletes should also be good ambassadors and represent Oyo State very well at the Games.
“You must play by the rules and I know that we will accomplish our target at the Games and if it happens otherwise, we should know that it is the wish of God,” Ajimobi, who spoke through the state’s deputy governor, Otunba Moses Alake said.
Also in his remarks, Oyo State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Barrister Abayomi Oke, expressed confidence in the ability of the athletes to make the state proud in Abuja.
“This event is commendable because athletes all over the country have been waiting for the commencement of the 19th National Sports Festival, so, the torch of unity going round is an indication that we are going to hold the sports fiesta this year.
“In fact, this is a platform for us to expose our young athletes who took part at this year’s National Youth Games in Ilorin. So, our target is to see them perform well than what they did at the Youth Games.
“If they finish among the top five, that is an awesome achievement, but the most important thing is to expose these young athletes to a bigger competition. The focus of the Ajimobi-administration is catch-them-young and we have to expose the talents we have discovered to competitions to meet emerging challenges at national and international levels.
“Oyo State has always produced national and international athletes in all sports, the exploits of our products like Aruna Quadri in table tennis and Yakubu Adesokan in the world para-powerlifting would continue to be a reference point.
“We are fully prepared for the National Sports Festival in Abuja,” Oke said.
Meanwhile, the torch of unity which was brought by the Zonal Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Zone One, South West, Mr Olufemi Ajao, said the event marks the readiness for the kickoff of the Games in Abuja next month.
“This is the last phase of the tour of the torch of unity. Everything is set for the Games to hold next month, no more postponement. We are leaving here for Osogbo, Osun State with this torch of unity for the same purpose, which is to sensitise Nigerians ahead of the 19th National Sports Festival,” he said.