Enugu – The Enugu State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Barrister Lloyd Ike Ekweremadu, has pledged that the state would offer a cash reward of N700,000 to athletes who win gold medals at the forthcoming National Sports Festival, Ogun State 2024.
He equally asserted the commitment of the state to the welfare of athletes and Coaches in the state.
Commissioner Lloyd Ike Ekweremadu gave the assurance during the visit of athletes and coaches to his office.
He explained that Enugu state needs to step- up it’s reward system to encourage athletes ,noting that the state needs to invest in home grown athletes and develop them to international standards.
“We need to step- up,we need to invest in our athletes,We are looking at a bigger picture of how to have lasting legacy where we can meet in the future and say ‘ yes we developed great athletes”
According to him,”We need to go back to our glorious years .We want to move sports forward .We want people to know that Enugu state is a producer of great sportsmen and women .However, our challenge is lack of facilities and funding.
“We will look into the problems you have identified and seek solutions to them “
In his remarks, Nigeria’s current 400 metres champion Johnson Nnamani, who also represented Nigeria in 2022 Kenya Junior World athletics championship and in Mauritius 2022 Commonwealth Games remarked that, it was unfortunate that he won medals for the state in 2018 , in the National Youth Games , and 202O National Sports but was neither recognized nor received by the state.
According to him, the situation made him to compete for Bayelsa State , In the 2022 National Sports Festival held in Asaba, Delta State
He informed the Commissioner that Bayelsa State, is currently begging him to compete for them in 2024 Sports Festival,but, that he will consider representing his state, if Enugu State is ready to take care of his welfare. He explained that he had obtained a sports scholarship to study in United States of America in the summer of 2024.
In the same vein, Ebuka Orji lamented that he represented Enugu State in 2020,where he won gold medal in para – athletics but was not received nor rewarded by the state,noting that he needs to fend for himself to survive. He remarked that in 2022, National Sports Festival he won 1 gold and 2 bronze medals for Delta State and that the promised to give him N1.5M, requesting him to represent Delta State in 2024.
He begged the Commissioner to help fund his tertiary education .
The Head of Coaching in the Ministry and Deputy Director Coaching Ephraim Ochonma, said he brought the athletes and Coaches to the Commissioner so that the Commissioner will consider how best to solve their problems.
In their separate speeches Ken Onuaguluchi, a retired Director Coaching and former Nigerian international,regretted the lack of good reward system, poor facilities and non -replacement of retired coaches as major challenges facing sports in the state.
In his remarks Chinweizu a retired wrestling Coach, thanked the Commissioner for his humility and for receiving them , he explained that he is driven by passion for wrestling and sports development.