Ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France, Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has called on handlers of sports in the country to begin early preparations.
He made the call on Thursday while declaring open the Annual General Meeting of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) in Yenagoa.
Represented by his deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, he identified late preparations as a major factor responsible for the country’s unimpressive performances both at the Olympics and other international sporting events for quite sometime now.
The Governor, therefore, charged managers of sports industry to see it not only as a recreational activity but rather run it as a business venture to generate employment opportunities and boost the revenue base of the country.
He also urged the various national sports federations to avoid unnecessary competition but rather complement each other’s efforts to achieve the goal of sustainable sports development.
According to the Bayelsa Chief Executive, the state has identified and is now concentrating on its areas of comparative advantage, which include swimming, wrestling and boxing.
Governor Diri, who disclosed that Bayelsa has one of the best wrestling gyms in Africa at the moment, expressed the state’s readiness to partner the federal ministry of sports on its Sports Academy Project at Asoama, in the Kolokuma/Opokuma Area to develop budding talents from the grassroots.
His words, “Nigerians need to stop the talk. We have talked too much. It is now time for us to walk the talk. Other countries have since started preparing for Paris 2024. But here we are still talking.
“And you know that when you talk too much, the energy for action is exhausted. So I will rather prescribe that we should start the preparation today and not tomorrow. Because if we start today, we will be able to make good progress.
“I want us to also reduce the intra and inter federation competitions. Let us do more of complementing one another and starting early. This idea that Nigerians can do it anytime, which is fire brigade approach, is not helping us”.
In his remarks, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, said the AGM provided a great opportunity to deliberate on issues of sports development in the country.
The Minister, who spoke through the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Ismaila Abubakar, appreciated the Nigeria Olympic Committee for its technical support to the national sports federations and called for synergy to reposition the country’s sports industry.
Earlier in his welcome address, the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr. Habu Ahmed Gumel, thanked the Bayelsa State Government for its warm reception and hospitality so far, and called on government to raise good swimmers from the state.
Gumel used the opportunity to also call on the National Federations directly involved in the games to ensure that their athletes and teams qualify to participate in the Winter Olympics in 2022, the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the Commonwealth Games, amongst others.