By Emmanuel Afonne
No fewer than 250 Nigerian athletes will participate at the 2018 African Youth Games (AYG) scheduled to hold between July 18 and July 28 in Algiers, Algeria.
Ademola Are, Director, Grassroots Sports Development, National Sports Commission (NSC), said this in Abuja on Tuesday while addressing newsmen on the country’s preparation for the Games.
Are said athletes of 18 sports out of the 23 the country would be taking part in, were already in their various camps in four states.
He listed the states as Lagos, Kaduna, Bayelsa, Jos and the FCT.
“We took part in the first edition of the AYG in Morocco and we did very well; the same thing in Gaborone, Botswana, in the second edition where we came third with only 13 sports.
“But in this third edition, we want to ensure we have full representation with 23 sports at the Games to give Nigerian youth the opportunity to be part of the age group competition.
“It will help Nigeria fight for the topmost position, realising that most of these countries that did better than us in the first and second editions of the games are engaged in multi-medal winning sports.
“So we want to be fully represented and get the best out of the games, especially podium successes,” Are said.
He applauded the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari at ensuring that Nigeria participated in every international competition through the release of intervention funds.
The NSC Director also said the minister had requested for another presidential intervention for funding of the Games through the Ministry of Finance.
“If you look at what Mr President has been doing to us, he has been magnanimous enough in releasing presidential intervention fund for all our programmes because ordinary allocation cannot do it for us.
“Mr President has been approving funds for Nigeria’s participation in sports events; so we appreciate that.
“Without adequate and prompt release of this funds we will not be able to prepare effectively but so far, we are doing all we can and the children are doing what they should do.”
Are further said that most of the athletes in camp for the AYG were those discovered from the National Youth Games.
He expressed happiness that most of the athletes had already qualified for the Youth Olympics scheduled for Buenos Aires, Argentina, in October.