11th July, 2011
Host of the just concluded 17th National Sports Festival, Rivers State will retain athletes that won medals for the state at the national tournament.
Rivers emerged winners at the festival with 135 gold, 79 silver and 85 bronze medals totalling 299 medals.
P.M. Sports can report that majority of the athletes in Team Rivers are not indigenes of the state. Most of these athletes are afraid that with the festival over, the state can conveniently do away with their services.
An athlete that spoke to P.M. Sports in confidence, said that Rivers State governemnt officials have told them that only athletes that won medals will be retained so that the state can consolidate on its performance in the next Games in Lagos.
â€œRivers state is already preparing for the 2012 edition in Lagos. The state wants to repeat recorded in this yearâ€™s Games in the next editionthe feat again next year,â€ he said.
It was gathered that Rivers State has been alleged to poaching of athletes from other states and buying officials all through the festival.
Some athletes also accused the state of using poor facilities to the deteriment of other states and favoured their players that were used to the turfs.
Aminu Bizi Aminu, chairman of Traditional Wrestling Association in Jigawa State slammed Team Rivers for hosting to win. He added that this was not good for sports in Nigeria.
â€œWe need to develop sports and not to host competition and win at all costs. Itâ€™s simply not good for Nigerian sports. We must help this country to produce great athletes,â€ he said.
P.M. Sports, however, learnt that athletes that won gold for Rivers State at the Games were given the sum of N350,000 each. From weightlifting alone, Team Rivers got at least 20 medals.
â€”Seun Bisuga / Port Harcourt