Athletes, officials in Lagos State are waiting eagerly for a date to be fixed for the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF).
The festival has been postponed severally since Cross River got the hosting right after the 18th edition staged by Lagos State and tagged “Eko 2012’’.
The Games, supposed to be hosted in 2014, has been postponed three times for poor logistics, leading to the Ministry of Youths and Sports taking it over for hosting by the Federal Capital Territory.
However, a date for its staging has yet to be announced.
The development led to Lagos-based sports fans protesting the continued delay in the hosting of the Games at the National Stadium, Lagos in November.
A Lagos State Para-Athletics Coach, Adegboyega Adenuga, said: “We have the highest number of athletes training in Lagos for the sports festival earlier fixed for November only to realise that it will no longer hold this year.
“So, this made us to come together and hold a peaceful protest to express our disappointment to the government because we are unhappy with the development.
“We protested to get the sports authorities attention so that they can address us or respond to our request by announcing a date for the competition,’’ Adenuga said.
He expressed displeasure with the postponements which has now distorted the programming for the biennial competitions, saying that the 20th edition should have held in 2016 if the 19th had held in 2014.
“We are all aware that the last festival was held in 2012 and naturally the next in 2014 but up till date we have not smelt anything near the festival date.
“Everybody, especially sports fans know the importance of the festival and how it has engaged and helped our youths to develop their skills and stay away from vices,’’ he said.
According to him, the situation has rendered the NSF contract athletes and coaches redundant as their allowances have been put on hold, leaving them jobless.
“A lot of sports people are going through hard times because their sources of income have been dragging due to lack of activities,’’ he added.
Adenuga appealed to the relevant authorities to promptly address the issues delaying the competition’s hosting which, he said, was the “Nigeria’s Olympics’’ and which had meaningfully impacted the youths.