The festival is in Cross River, not so! Cross River can’t host it anymore, time is too short to seek another host this year, what next? Cross River will be ready in another six months.
It’s been two years, are you ready now Cross River? Oh! We can’t do it again this year, can you give us two more years to prepare? Again, the state got it, and why not? That was the only state willing to host the tournament but this time, they aren’t ready again and now the sports ministry have had enough of that hullabaloo, the festival is going to the Captial city all at the expense of the Sports ministry.
For six years, the one and truly sports developmental event in Nigeria, the Sports Festival, had been neglected, left to ruin due to series of postponements and an inability to find suitable and willing hosts every other year as extensively stated here.
The last edition in Lagos six years ago was a huge success and the worst thing that could have possibly followed is exactly what was experienced. Six years of inactivity; enough time to host three more editions of the biannual tournament, enough time to discover new and emerging talents across a variety of sports, enough time to build on the popularity of an event that wasn’t as huge until Lagos hosted it in 2012, yet all of this didn’t happen.
In that time, Nigeria moved from President Goodluck Jonathan to President Muhamadu Buhari and has had three sports ministers, and each one has had the opportunity to make the event happen at least once, but until the current Sports Minister Solomon Dalung was presented his second and possibly final opportunity in that role, it didn’t look like it was going to happen.
Now athletes can look forward to an event. It can get tiring and demoralising training all year without focus. Most of the sports federations can’t properly organise meets or even send their athletes to one on the continent, the Sports Festival is usually a safe haven giving athletes a tournament they can look forward to until they could no longer do that.
Two generations of sportsmen have been denied the opportunity, it’s good to see that a third generation is saved. Now let’s see what this edition 19 of the Nigeria Sports Festival has to offer. Let’s light the torch! Oh, that’s been done already.