February festival date sacrosanct, insists Dare

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare has reassured that the February 14 kick off-date of the National  Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo State remains sacrosanct.

The festival, tagged Edo 2020, was initially billed for March 2020 but has suffered several postponements following the outbreak of COVID-19.

In a statement by his media aide, John-Joshua Akanji, on Sunday, Dare said, “After the  National Sports Festival in February this year, we will move to the National Youth Games and  continue the build-up to the Olympic Games.”

The sports minister added that he was working on ensuring that the ministry benefitted from the sports lottery funds from henceforth.

“We have asked for  25 per cent of the lottery funds to come to sports. Jamaica and England give between 31 to 38 per cent of their lottery funds to sports, but right now we are getting nothing from the funds. We hope to get the approval for the Lottery Fund money in the first quarter of  the year,” Dare added.

On the adopt-an-athlete initiative, which was  introduced to cater for athletes’ welfare,  the minister noted that it had been successful so far, assuring that this year,  it would  accommodate more athletes.

He said, “The initiative provides $10, 000 training funds for home-based athletes, while the  overseas-based  get $20, 000.The money goes directly to the athletes, who are expected to use it for  their training, medicals and travels for competitions.

“The benefiting athletes sign MOUs with the adopting companies or individuals so that all the parties are protected.

“The initiative was stalled by the COVID-19 outbreak last year, but more companies have lined up to be part of it. We are looking at an initial 48 athletes benefiting “

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