6th July, 2011
The National Sports Festival, NSF, will be reviewed and replaced, the Director General of the National Sports Commission, NSC, Patrick Ekeji, said in chat with journalists at Hotel Presidential conference room, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, after receiving the report of the 19th National Sports Festival in 2014 from the Bid Evaluation Committee.
Ekeji noted that change is the only constant thing in sports and that the commission intends to bring more positive change as a way of adding greater value to sports in Nigeria. He added that the National Sports Festival will become an age grade competition in the new plans of the commission and will be replaced by the National Sports Open.
He explained that the National Sports Open will be an improvement on the sports festival and the platform by which athletes will be selected to represent Nigeria at the All African Games and Olympic Games in the future. He said there was a need to improve athletes’ performances and skills from the grassroots.
The introduction of National Sports Open will allow senior athletes focused better.
Ekeji said the National Open would strictly be for the sports which had been arranged by the National Sports Academical Committee. The sports include football, athletics and six other sports tagged category A. According to him, athletes who emerge winners at the National Sports Open would be adjudged the best for the elite athletes over a period of time.
â€œThe National open will hold in the first quarter of the Olympic year and the best athlete will represent Nigeria at all international competition. The idea of the National Open is to improve on the National Sports Festival. By the end of a National Open, Nigerianâ€™s should know the athletes that will represent them,â€ he said.
Ekeji, however refused to say when the National Open will begin, but explained that the committee is still making adequate plans and preparations for its proper implementation. â€œThe National Sports Festival as it is now may have to be looked at again because it is developmental in the sense that if an athlete has attended three national sports festival, he is no longer qualified to take part in subsequent editions,â€ he stated.
â€”Seun Bisuga/Port Harcourt