In the next 12 days, attention of sports-loving Nigerians will focus on Delta State, venue of the 21st National Sports Festival.
As at yesterday evening, the contingent from Lagos, Niger, Imo, Gombe, Katsina, Sokoto and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had already arrived in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
The flag hoisting ceremony for Delta 2022 National Sports Festival will hold at 4.00 p.m. today ahead of tomorrow’s opening ceremony slated for Stephen Keshi Stadium.
A majority of athletes, who arrived in Asaba yesterday, were thrilled by the quality of facilities provided by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa for the Games.
One major area that caught attention of the athletes and their officials was the new tartan track installed at the Stephen Keshi Stadium.
In 2018, when Delta State hosted the African Senior Athletics Championship, athletes from different parts of Africa complained that the tartan track was not smooth enough.
In his bid to host the best ever National Sports Festival, Governor Okowa, who is the vice presidential candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 election, ordered that a new tartan track be installed for Nigerian athletes to showcase their talent. The tartan track in Asaba Stadium is the first of its kind in Africa.
Other facilities build for Delta 2022 Games are two brand new indoor sports halls, a new swimming pool, a new shooting range, all within the Stephen Keshi Stadium, as well as a new hockey pitch at Okpanam.
Delta won the bid to host the fiesta, which is Nigeria’s version of the Olympics Games, at the end of the last edition held in Benin City, Edo State, last year.
Governor Okowa has also constructed new hostel facilities at the NYSC camp at Issele-Uku and in various schools within Asaba.
Delta 2022 National Sports festival, which will end on December 10, will see a total of 11, 000 athletes in attendance. It is about 2,000 more than the number that participated at the last edition in Edo State.