National Youth Games: Okowa Rejects Allegations Of Events Selection

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The Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission, Tonobok Okowa, has rejected allegations that he selected specific events featured at the just-concluded National Youth Games in Ilorin to favour his state.

Team Delta won the 2021 National Youth Games for the sixth consecutive time with 60 gold medals. However, some states accused Okowa of singlehandedly selecting the sports that favoured Team Delta at the competition.

Okowa said he attended the National Youth Games in his capacity as chairman of Delta Sports Commission, just like his colleagues from other states.

Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission, Tonobok Okowa (Centre)

“Yes, I am the President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, but I played my role as Delta State Commission in Ilorin,” Okowa said. “The Youth Games were not even organised by AFN and the AFN doesn’t even have the right or power to select events for the National Youth Games.”

“It is the sole responsibility of the Sports Ministry to select the events, and it is wrong for anybody to accuse me of selecting sports that favoured Team Delta. Some people said I singlehandedly left out long-distance races. That is unfair because it is the sole responsibility of the sports ministry to decide whether to include long-distance races or not.”

“Some people have said that Team Delta athletes were left out in the screening exercise. That is not true because our athletes were screened together with other states. Even officials, who did the screening don’t know whose state the athletes came from.”

“They were screened together and everyone saw what happened at the UNILORIN sports complex. We lost some athletes during the screening and we did not hold anybody responsible for it. It is Youth Games. This idea of looking for whom to blame for your failures is part of the reasons we are not making progress. People should learn to take responsibility for failures at the end of any sporting event.”

Okowa disclosed that Team Delta paraded the largest contingent of over 520 athletes in Ilorin, adding, “Team Delta spend more on athletes and coaches than other states.”

“As we speak, over 16 of the athletes, who represented us at the 2019 edition of the National Youth Games, are on scholarship in the US courtesy of Delta State government. So, tell me why the athletes won’t give their best for Delta State at any competition?” Okowa added.

 

Chidi Nwoke/The Guardian.

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