Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta on Monday announced the release of N403 million as cash reward to the state’s athletes who participated in the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF).
The reward event was held at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
At the event, the governor also announced cash reward for the state’s medalists at the 2018 National Youth Games (NYG) in Ilorin.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was attended by athletes and their officials, family members, sports lovers and the governor’s wife, Edith.
The governor, while speaking at the occasion, recalled that at the 2018 NSF, Delta emerged overall winners with 163 gold, 88 silver and 101 bronze medals, totaling 352 medals.
He said this was more than enough for Team Delta to beat its closest rival, Rivers, which had 194 medals.
“Great Delta athletes, today’s event is very special to me, because I have the privilege of being able to fulfill my promise to reward not only the medalists but everyone who represented our dear state.
“I therefore wish to reassure our young people, especially those with talent, that the state government will continue to encourage sportsmen and women.
“Sports has become a vital tool of empowerment and accomplishment, both at the national and international levels.
“I urge all of you (sports men and women) not to relent. Aim at attaining higher standards and glories both for the state and our country,” the governor said.
“Facilities have been made available and they will continually be upgraded to meet the demands of modern training.
“Whatever the state government is offering you today, it is not necessarily payment or compensation for winning laurels for your state.
“Rather, it is a token of appreciation of your commitment and patriotism while competing for your state,” he said.
Okowa, however, offered a scholarship award to the university level to Miss Precious Okafor for competing and winning medals at the NYG in spite of losing her mother.
NAN reports that the 2018 NSF gold medalists got N1 million each, silver medalists got N500,000 and bronze medalists N250,000.
On the other hand, the 2018 NYG gold medalists got N100,000, silver medalists N75,000 and bronze medalists N50,000.
Responding on behalf of the recipients, the Team Leader, Paul Ifekachukwu, thanked the governor for keeping to his promise of rewarding the athletes with cash gifts.
He said the governor had provided first-class sports facilities in the state and encouraged the athletes to bring out their best.
Ifekachukwu said Team Delta was committed to winning more laurels at future sports events.
Earlier, Tonobok Okowa, the Chairman of Delta Sports Commission, had thanked the governor for inspiring the athletes to victory.
He said this was because the team usually trained more than two weeks in camps before any competition.