A respected voice in global sports management and administration has urged the organisers of the National Youth Games (NYG) to make sure they challenge the ugly trend of the use of mercenaries or professional athletes by some states to win at all cost.
This admonition is contained in a press statement made available to journalists on Tuesday by Dr. Christian Ifeanyichukwu Emeruwa who decried the high rate of cheating going on in Nigeria sports especially in the grassroots sports competitions like the National Youth Games currently holding in Ilorin, Kwara state capital.
According to Emeruwa who holds a Ph.D in Administration and Organisation of Sports from the Department of Human Kinetics and Health Education University of Ibadan and the current Head and founder of the Safety and Security Department of the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF ) in Cairo, Egypt, the purported use of mercenaries by some states participating in the NYG is condemnable by every Nigerian home and diaspora.
The Games which is featuring a total of 37 sporting events meant to mark another turning point in Nigeria’s quest for a breed of new generational athletes that will make the country proud at the global stage, has been characterised by allegations of cheating by some states who are bent to win at all cost.
The competition is open for only athletes of 15 years and below according to the rules and regulation guiding it but Emeruwa has posited that the trend is trying to erode the objectives of having a National Youth Games which is suppose to be a breeding ground for future world-class athletes who will win laurels at global sporting events for Nigeria.
This has therefore prompted him to issue a statement titled: “Don’t Erode Objectives of National Youth Games”. Below is the full text:
“The National Youth Games (NYG) has been purportedly characterised as one that has witnessed great anomalies in terms of the ages of the athletes.
There has been several cries that by participating states on how some states have brought in mercenaries to participate and represent their states in the way and manner that is unacceptable.
It is important that I make it clear here that the essence of the NYG is grassroots sports development and if at the grassroots we are encouraging age-cheats then we should forget about sports development in Nigeria.
Students or athletes who participate in NYG are expected or supposed to be students, therefore the situation where people who are already professional athletes, like professional football players, are currently being poached to represent states at NYG all because they want to win at all cost has defeated the very purpose of organizing the NYG.
We need to condemn this outrightly and say that everyone who is involved in this act of criminality of clearing people who are not eligible to participate in the NYG thereby bringing the Games to disrepute should be identified, investigated and also hold accountable.
As a professional Sports Administrator that knows the importance of grassroots sports development, I feel it is out of place for anyone to encourage this kind of actions.
The youths are supposed to be exposed to the best practices of sports development. And one of the fundamentals of sports development is to inculcate into the youths a culture of respecting the laws governing sports.
And which law is more important than the Law of Eligibility.
If the eligibility rules or laws are not taken seriously then there is no sports competition that will hold successfully.
So we have to go back to question the rationale behind the organisation of NYG if committees that are screening athletes cannot do their jobs judiciously then they don’t have any right to be there. The MYS should ensure that screening committees are composed of experts and men amd women of integrity.
Same should be for the members of the Organising committee failure of which will translate to us having a big problem in our sports.
Sports should not only be domesticated to become an item that can be used to celebrate certain political gains as a result of manipulated performance results, no.
The NYG is a developmental Games and it should be left for students within the right age brackets to expose them to healthy competition so that they will be able to perform optimally and Nigeria will be
at great benefit when these youths, identified very young grows up to become good athletes not using old men to compete amongst young people and expect them to still grow young.
You can’t expect an old man to grow young. This is the point and I think we need to strongly condemn this and say let NYG be for the youths as it was originally designed.
This is a big challenge to all the organisers that they must make sure that they must change this ugly trend that is trying to erode the objectives of having a National Youth Games.