Team Delta storms Abuja, construction work ongoing at National Stadium
Dalung laments over late release of funds
Defending champions of the National Sports Festival, Team Delta, is expected to hit the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, today with a large contingent of over 800 athletes and officials. The team will leave Asaba this morning in a convoy of about 13 marcopolo buses and other cars for the Games, which will begin on Thursday.
Since the return to democracy in 1999, Team Delta had dominated the National Sports Festival, winning it at Bauchi 2000, Abuja 2004 and Gateway 2006 under the Chief James Ibori’s administration, as well as Kada 2009 and Eko 2012 under Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan’s regime.
Team Delta has vowed to win this year’s edition, the first under the administration of Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa. An official of the Delta Sports Commission told The Guardian yesterday that the team had been given both morale and financial motivation by Governor Okowa to conquer all opposition at the 19th National Sports Festival.
With less than two days to the National Sports Festival, which had suffered several postponements, construction works were still ongoing at the Abuja National Stadium yesterday.It is doubtful if football event and some others listed to feature in the Festival would hold at the multi billion naira stadium.
While construction works are still being carried out at the indoor halls, the outdoor courts are just being lined and painted in conformity with the way it was when the complex was constructed to host the 8th All Africa Games in 2003.
The lining of the tartan tracks at the main bowl that is suppose to host athletics, are yet to be cleaned for use.It was not clear yesterday if swimming would be held at the Olympic sized pool at Package B of the Abuja National Stadium. The Guardian learnt arrangements were being made to stage the swimming events in a hotel in the FCT.
While lamenting the delay in releasing funds for the National Sports Festival, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung said yesterday that the ministry had since March this year been requesting for funds to begin preparation.
Said Dalung: “any would-be hosting state would be given about two years to prepare and put the needed facilities in place. But this time, we had just nine months to prepare. The funds we have been requesting for was released today (yesterday).”“Since 2012, when the 18th edition was held in Lagos, there has not been the 19th edition until now, and our athletes discovered have been idle.”
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