The Minister of Sports Development Sen. John Owan-Enoh has assured of equal attention to para-sports to encourage athletes with physical and intellectual challenges.
Owan-Enoh, who made this known when he inspected facilities at the National Stadium Surulere, commended the athletes’ selfless contributions by winning laurels for Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the minister was at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, on Thursday as part of ongoing efforts to assess the state of major sports facilities in Nigeria.
He also visited the National Institute of Sports, the boxing complex, main bowl of the stadium, sports medical centre, indoor sports hall and other facilities.
He inspected the Games Village hostels, Legacy Pitch, Power House, as well as the courts for different sports.
The minister also demanded to see the Para-athletes gym and held a meeting with representatives of the Para-athletes.
A representative of the Para-athletes, who told the minister their plight, also alleged that para-sports that won international medals for the country had been neglected and uncared for.
“We need an estate for the physically challenged; we will like the minister to use his good office to achieve this for us.
“We also need more gym equipment because the ones here are not good again,” she said.
The representative of Para-athletes said they were still waiting for the ministry to release funds for athletes that would be in Ghana for the African Para-athletes Olympics Qualifiers.
“We are yet to have funds released for the trip to Ghana; our athletes are still in Nigeria. The ministry said they didn’t have funds for our trip to Ghana.
“Those participating in the Ghana qualifiers are: Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair basketball, para-table tennis and others,” she said
Responding, Owan-Enoh said he would look into the matter to provide the interventions required.
“Since coming into this facility, I have witnessed a lot of excitements and enthusiasm from the para-sports who have been following my convoy and I am aware of their plight.
“If there are some groups of athletes that have won laurels for Nigeria, anytime they compete, it has to be you people.
“It just appeared that para-sports which is a generic name that you come under has given us more laurels and we will try to make sure that this ministry under my watch will help you.
“We will not treat para-sport differently from others, we will give you that recognition that you deserve, just keep doing your best. I have found out that you have achieved all these because of your commitments,” he said.
Owan-Enoh added that rather than take the commitment of the para-athletes for granted, the ministry would continue to encourage them.
The minister also lauded the organisers of Louis Edem International Basketball Championships after watching part of the ongoing game ongoing at the time of his visit.
He restated that the ministry of sports development would partner with individuals and corporate organisations to promote sports.
“I commend the organisers of this Louis Edem International Basketball Championships for a good job of promoting sports.
“I am here in this facility tour of the National Stadium and I did not plan for this opportunity and to witness a live game of basketball, this is a good one and I am delighted about it.
“It is exciting to watch the game live. I was told that this tournament takes place twice every year and this is the second one.
“This is one of the best private initiatives, an individual’s effort with passion. We appreciate such commitment,” he said.
He further stressed that individuals and corporate bodies with passion for sports would be encouraged to be part of efforts to grow sports in his tenure.
“Fortunately, we have a president who has shown much passion and interest to grow sports to the extent of creating a separate ministry for sports.
“I see no reason that we are not having a running league in basketball in Nigeria. I understand the problem with basketball; how it has been riddled with problems and not just that of federation,” he said.
Owan-Enoh also restated that the ministry would ensure that the running and progress of sports remained orderly, peaceful and conflict-free in Nigeria. (www.nannews.ng)
Source: News Agency of Nigeria