Culled from National Mirror
Cross River State Director of Sports, Mr. Jude Amadi, has opened up on the preparations of the state towards hosting a memorable National Sports Festival in 2014. He tells ANDREW EKEJIUBA, in his office in Calabar, that participating states should prepare large contingents to enjoy the hospitality of the state.
How is the state preparing for the National Sports Festival next year?
We are working hard and currently Cross River State is very busy with activities because we want to make sure that all the facilities needed for us to host successfully the 2014 National Sports Festival are ready. So, we are on facility upgrading and construction of new ones for the festival.
Also, I want to state that the Ikom and Ogoja stadia are almost at 90% completion and from the look of things; we are ready and rearing to go!
At the last National Sports Festival hosted by Lagos State, Cross River placed a distant 8th position on the final table; were you satisfied by that feat and what actually happened?
Yes, we were satisfied because we finished 8th at Eko 2012 and we achieved our aim for featuring at the event. If you recall, we finished 15th at the National Sports Festival hosted by Rivers State in 2011 with 36 medals comprising of seven gold, 12 silver and 17 bronze medals. And when we came to Lagos last year we ended at the 8th position which is an improvement from what we had in Rivers in 2011.
At Eko 2012, I remember telling the sporting press that our target was to make the top ten at the close of events and we did achieve that, so as hosts for next year’s sports festival, we are aiming at how to finish in the top three and we are working seriously in achieving this by God’s grace.
Why do you think Cross River will finish in top-three at next year’s festival?
I’m confident because all machinery have been put in place to achieve this because we have gone across the state for talent hunt and the ones discovered are undergoing intensive training. Also we have embarked on exposing the athletes discovered in national and international championships for them to garner experience and exposure ahead of the sports festival next year.
As you are aware, our female table tennis team represented Nigeria in the Africa Table Tennis Club Tournament in Congo Brazzaville recently and they came out in flying colours.
So, we are proud of them because it is our team. Also the National Judo Championship has just ended in Ibadan and we won four gold medals at the end of the competition, thereby finishing third on the medals table which is a good result.
So you can see that we are building up to Calabar 2014 National Sports Festival with all the athletes we have
discovered from the grassroots.
In your earlier interview with us last year, you said that your commission would be going to the grassroots to discover more talent; do you now have enough athletes to haul medals come Cross River 2014?
My answer is yes, because if you are talking of young athletes we have them in large numbers and they are going to be featuring in all the various sports the state shall be competing for honours at the National Sports Festival next year.
In the last two years, Cross River State has remained the leading state in school sports in Nigeria because we hosted the 2011 edition of the National School Sports Festival and we won it. In the 2012 edition which was shifted to earlier this year and hosted by Port Harcourt we also came tops.
Even the National Youth Games is coming up in Abuja in September, and we are preparing seriously for the event at least to use it to make a statement that Cross River State is a model for youth sports development. We have a comprehensive youth sports development programme and we are ahead of many other states in this regard.
At every National Sports Festival, host states always want to win-at-all costs; are we going to see such happen at Calabar 2014?
No, no. If you have taken time to study the indigenes of Cross River State, you will understand that we do not harbour such feelings in the sporting arena. We are peace-loving people and we are going to extend such love at the National Sports Festival next year. Our athletes are going to put in their best in every event we are going to compete in a free and fair manner.
We are promising our visitors that Cross River State is going to put up a great show and we are going to host well. We are not going to intimidate our visitors or crucify people because we want to win medals.
That will never happen because we will use our natural and top athletes to prosecute the events and I know we will never disappoint Nigerians from all walks of life that will coming for the event.
However I know Team Cross River will perform well because we know we have prepared our athletes adequately for the challenges ahead, but not in a do-or-die affair manner.
His Excellency, Governor Liyel Imoke, has told us that the events are not going to be staged in a do-or-die manner and we must not disappoint him in that regard. It is our hope and prayers that our best effort should be able to see us through.
What advice do you have for the states that will be coming to Cross River for the Festival next year?
We want to assure them of their safety because Cross River is a home for entertainment, culture and tourism.
My advice is that they should come with many contingents as possible because the entire city of Calabar is going to be agog since the event will coincide with our carnival period. We are eager to welcome our visitors because we want them to enjoy the hospitality of our people.
I want to encourage those whose sports may not make the festival to come and witness the hospitality of the good people of Cross River State.
The President of Nigeria Darts Federation (NDF) and some of his members visited you earlier; can you share with us highlights of your discussion?
Darts as you know is one of the 16 optional sports listed for the National Sports Festival to be hosted next year in the state and out of the 16 optional sports, the host state will pick five that will be included for competition as medal winning events. Their coming here is to see how darts can gain popularity or be included as one of the optional sports athletes will compete for medals.
The sport is relatively unknown in Cross River State, so the NDF president promised to donate some darts equipment to the host state, which they actually did here today to enable our athletes and officials know the rudiments of the game.
Aside the donation, they promised to provide more equipment for the sport in Cross River so that our athletes will totally embrace darts which is a laudable idea.
Let’s take a look at the 2014 Commonwealth Games coming up in Glasgow, Scotland; do you see Team Nigeria doing well at the Games?
Of course I foresee Team Nigeria doing well because at the Commonwealth Games level, Nigeria has always done well. We have had that prospect of winning gold medals in various sports that the country has featured in the past and Glasgow 2014 is not going to be an exception.
Despite the fact that we have some top sporting countries like Australia, Canada and England at the Commonwealth Games, but Nigeria has remained a force to reckon with in the event. I’m hopeful that we are going to do well at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Finally, which events do you think we can win medals at Glasgow 2014?
I’m sure we shall win medals in athletics, wrestling boxing and some of the combat sports because these are events we have comparative advantage over other countries in terms of winning medals.
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