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Covid-19, other odds aside, FCT hopes for best in Edo 2021 - Sports director

Feb, 2021 | By Gyang Dakwo | ||

Ahead of the rescheduled 20th National Sports Festival, tagged Edo 2021, Acting Director, FCT Sports Department, Mr. Luka Istifanus, has reaffirmed the commitment of the sports administration to foster the continued growth of sports in the territory. In a chat with Abuja Digest Weekly, Istifanus pointed out some of the challenges of administering sports in the nation's capital which, according to him, have prevented FCT from attaining its rightful position in Nigeria's sporting hierarchy.

He said: "The administration of sports in the FCT is difficult in the sense that it is civil servant-dominated unlike places like Lagos, Rivers or Delta states where you have multinational companies that contribute to the growth of sports there. "Here, the few companies we have are solely interested in profit-making than rendering service to the citizenry through sports. Here, sports funding is left entirely to government and there is a limit to what the government can do without the support of the private sector. "We have companies here, mostly construction firms and banks who are not willing to incur additional expenses in the area of sports sponsorship."

The Director spoke on the negative impact of coronavirus pandemic on sports not only in the FCT but globally, adding that it has made it impossible to work according to earlier laid-out plans and timelines. This, he said, informed the several postponements of the National Sports Festival---a situation, according to him, which made it difficult to even manage the athletes as they are not bound to the FCT sports department.

Istifanus remarked: "Covid-19 has brought a lot of negatives in the sense that administratively and psychologically, it has affected our programs. It affects my planning because where we are supposed to be, is not where we are. Day in day out, we keep telling our athletes 'be patient, don't eat this, don't travel, don't do this because the festival is around the corner'. "They have been adhering to our instructions---only for them to be disappointed. As I am speaking with you, so many of our athletes have travelled out of the country and some of the female athletes are now pregnant. So if the festival is to take place, quite a number of them will not be available whenever the games come up."

Istifanus was, however, optimistic and full of hope that with proper execution of its plans, Team FCT will be able to participate fully in 27 sporting events at the festival. This, in addition to the welfare of the athletes and coaches, is the major focus of the department for now.

According to him, "We are in open camp now pending when we get the logistics to go into closed camp. But for now, all our athletes are busy training at the various training grounds and our coaches and technical crew are there with them. However, we are very mindful of the coronavirus pandemic and are taking all necessary precautions in line with established guidelines." The twice-rescheduled sports festival which was expected to commence on the 14 February and end on 28 February, 2021, has now been shifted to sometime in April.

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Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, has flagged off COVID-19 vaccination for residents of the Territory, just as she declared the safety of the vaccine.

Seven state Governors and one Deputy Governor graced the unveiling ceremony which was performed during the Nigerien President's visit to Nigeria. The unveiling was performed by the visiting President himself last week.

Minister of State, FCT, Dr. Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, who flagged off the programme last week in Gwagwalada, affirmed that the initiative was a strategy to enhance social inclusion.


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