As other states settle down to compete at the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival, which got underway at the weekend, Edo State is groaning under the weight of an over-bloated contingent.
With 591 athletes and officials, the state has the largest contingent at the games. Checks reveal that more than a third of this number are not athletes but individuals smuggled into the team for personal reasons. And the athletes are complaining that the ‘outsiders’ have been getting preferential treatment over the main actors at the festival.
While coaches and their athletes have been struggling to get themselves accommodated and paid their outstanding camping allowances and settle down to compete, these individuals smuggled into the team have since been settled into comfortable accommodation.
“We have been treated like orphans right from Benin City. We had trained for about two weeks courtesy of the generosity of our coaches who funded the exercise because the state refused to provide funds.
“We travelled overnight on Wednesday and arrived in Abuja on Thursday morning and were driven straight to the stadium. Even after the opening ceremony, we were huddled into the bus and spent the night without being accommodated,” an aggrieved female athlete said.
The Edo state case is just one out of the many cases that has marred the planning and preparation from states and the organizing committee of the 19th National Sports Festival.