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Team FCT'll make everyone proud at National Youth Games - Onyedinma

5th Aug, 2019 | By Gyang Dakwo | ||

The 5th edition of the National Youth Games commenced last Saturday at the University of Ilorin,in the Kwara state capital, with Team FCT participating in 26 sports including football, basketball, tennis, chess and karate. The games, which feature athletes under the age of 15 competing in 34 sports, is an avenue for discovering and developing talent as well as fostering unity among Nigerian children.

In an interview with Gyang Dakwo of Abuja Digest Weekly, the Director of Sports, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mrs. Dilichukwu Onyedinma, said the department has worked tirelessly in the weeks leading to the games to ensure a successful outing for the Territory. Abuja Digest Weekly: How ready is Team FCT for the National Youth Games? Onyedinma: As usual we have done a lot of work. Thank God, we employed coaches and sporting officers and because of it we have been training. First of all, we engaged them in open camp. We have had a lot of tournaments and trials and competitions to be able to discover athletes from different schools.

Now we are in closed camp where you bring them together so that they will know that they are all in FCT team. Abuja Digest Weekly: How have you been able to cope with the issue of funding? Is it solely from the FCT Administration (FCTA) or is there sponsorship from other quarters? Onyedinma: It is always the Administration footing the bill. In FCT, it's difficult to get corporate sponsorship; I don't know why. In the past we've written series of letters but nothing came out of such. In Nigeria as a whole, sport is governmentorganized; in all the states it is government that sponsors the Youth Games. I must appreciate the FCT Administration; they have been trying their best. Even these Youth Games, they have supported the youths tremendously; so the youths of FCT are always looking forward to the games because this is what keeps them busy, makes them channel their energies productively and avoid vice.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Children with exceptional talents in sports are often discovered during such games. What is the FCT Sports department doing to ensure that such children are given the opportunity to further develop their talents? Onyedinma: Yes, whenever we discover athletes, we bring them in from time to time to stay together and work together, train together. We make the children to be friendly; you instill discipline in them, you make them focus on things that are positive; at times you counsel them and ask them to use their talents instead of engaging in other things that are not relevant.

So we always bring them together; but you can't keep them for long as most of them are in school. For instance, most of the athletes are students; so during the holidays you bring them, one sport at a time, to engage in trainings. When we don't have money to bring them all in---because you are talking of about 40 sports--- we bring them one at a time. For example, in basketball they have been in camp for a while now playing in the Zenith League and the same thing happens in all sports.

Abuja Digest Weekly: What steps are you taking to ensure the overall welfare of the athletes in camp and during competitions considering the fact that they are minors? Onyedinma: To manage under-15 is quite interesting and difficult but the interesting aspect of it is that you're working with their parents, the teachers and the coaches. You need their parents' consent in all aspects of sports. You might be surprised to know that most of our athletes' parents travel with them on the sidelines for competitions. So that is what gives them strength and makes us happy. We also provide chaperones for the girls to monitor them in camp and during competitions while the boys have camp commandant with support from those parents who come to cheer them. We also ensure that competent caterers provide food that has all the needed nutrients for our athletes.

Abuja Digest Weekly: How has the Sports department been able to authenticate the ages of the athletes so that Team FCT does not run afoul of the age limit rule? Onyedinma: I am proud to tell you that we (FCT) present the youngest team anytime we go for competitions. You know majority of our young athletes are children of enlightened parents and so they have their birth certificates. For us to take you, we request your birth certificate and sometimes National Population Commission birth registration certificate and most of the time the parents provide them. Also, once you are 15 on the dot, we don't take you because by the time we go for the competition you are above 15. So we are not known for age cheating as we work with enlightened parents.

Abuja Digest Weekly: Can you now confidently say Team FCT will put on a good performance in Ilorin this time around? Onyedinma: We have always put up a good outing; the only problem is our preparations are short. You know sports needs consistency. When you put children together for a longer period, you get better results. Again, funding is key because if you have funds you will be able to present athletes for the 34 sports that Ilorin is requesting but if you don't have funds you won't be able to go with that number of sports. So if we are going with 36 sports and Delta State is coming with 34 sports, Delta has already got an advantage over us because they have more sports to compete in and win medals.

So you need early preparations, more funds and incentives to be able to say 'you are adequately prepared and for this I am going to give you this result'. Having said that, what we have done already, we are not going to go home emptyhanded because some states go home with zero medal but we will not go home with zero medal. We will compete favorably with other states.

Abuja Digest Weekly: What is your advice to children and parents in FCT concerning youth development in sports? Onyedinma: For some parents who withdraw their children from camp, I say it is not good because you live in Abuja and your children are being trained by FCT coaches. But when it is time for competitions, you say you are from one state or the other and for that 'my child will only compete for my home state'. It doesn't help that child because the child has been together with other children training and they become friends. So once you pull a child out to a place the child is not familiar with, you kill the child's sporting career. So I am appealing to parents not to take advantage of their children's talents for selfish reasons.

I also want to encourage those children that are doing well in sports to continue doing their best because you never know where you will make your mark, given that when you are good you will be economically empowered and healthy.

News Update

The Minister said these after a meeting of the FCT Security Committee which comprises heads of the police, military and para-military formations in FCT as well as Area Council Chairmen and religious leaders.

The cheery news is coming as Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu will headline a distinguished galaxy of stakeholders for the FCT pension stakeholders retreat this week.

Finally last week, Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) took over managing and operating the newly- completed Nigeria-Korea Model School in Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his Administration will continue to fashion policies designed to ensure employment and security of all citizens, especially the youth.

Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has decried the lynching of three suspected traffic robbers popularly known as 'One chance' in Dutsen Alhaji area of Abuja last week.

Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) always makes public the allocations in line with President Muhammadu Buhari's Change Agenda which harps on transparency, anti-corruption and accountability, tenets which FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has made his beacon.


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