NSF: We’ll do better in 2024 – Nasarawa athletes

From Esther Akaa, Lafia

Nasarawa State athletes have promised to do better in the next edition of the National Sports Festival (NSF) which will take place in Ogun State in the year 2024.

The Voice reports that the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Chief Sunday Dare, announced the next host of the 22nd edition of the NSF on Saturday at the closing ceremony of the 2022 edition of the NSF which took place in Asaba, Delta state.

Oyo state as runners-up will be on standby in case Ogun State falters in hosting the biennial games.

Speaking in an interview with The Voice on Sunday, one of the silver medalist and para-table tennis defending champion for Team Nasarawa, Husseini Ibrahim, said the competition was one of the toughest tournaments he had ever experienced.

Ibrahim explained that, although he made it to the finals but was defeated by his opponent 2-0, a situation he said he never expected.

“I won silver medal but that was not what I wanted. I competed against Kayode Alabi of Delta State and he defeated me 2-0 in the finals. This is the first time that is happening because I recently defeated Kayode at the first edition of para-sports festival held in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“I also defeated him in Edo at the 20th edition of the NSF. I think my  challenge was lack of equipment but I thank God I made it to the finals,” he said.

He, urged the state government to provide all necessary equipment that will enable Athletes train vigorously to win gold medals in the next edition of the festival.

Also speaking, Elijah Agada, winner of bronze medal in the taekwondo poomsea individual event and taekwondo poomsea (demonstration) team event, alongside Isah Ahmadu and Agada Ofu, expressed happiness over the feat recorded at the competition.

“This is my first time of competing at the NSF and it was a good experience even though some of the referees were bias.

“I thank God, my coaches and the government for giving me the opportunity to participate in this competition. I am happy because I will be going back to train more and try to improve in other areas so that I will win gold medals in next edition of the sports festival.

He, called on other athletes, who couldn’t win medals to believe in themselves and work harder next time.

On her part, Louisa Iho, who competed in taekwondo -41Kg and won bronze medal said she went into the competition with the aim of winning gold medal but ended up with a bronze medal, describing it as one of the normals in sporting competitions.

Iho, however, accused the referees at the competition of favouring other states, especially the South-South States, in order to ensure that they emerge winners.

She, said: “I am sure that next time, it will be more better and I pray God to crown my heart desires with much effort.”

Meanwhile, the Director of Sports at the state Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Laurence Shammah has commended Team Nasarawa for their performance at this year’s NSF.

The director, who doubles as the leader of the delegation in an exclusive interview with The Voice on Sunday said even though it was the state’s desire to be among the top 10 states at the end of the competition, they ended up on position 28th, assuring that the team will do better next edition.

“We give thanks to God that the National Sports Festival has come to an end. Our performance is not too bad and so we are grateful to God for the medals we won and we are hopeful that next time, we will do better,” he said.

He, therefore, appreciated Governor Abdullahi Sule for providing the necessary funds geared towards the success of the biannual event which is best described as the ‘Olympic like’ sporting fiesta.

The Voice reports that Team Nasarawa ended the sports fiesta on number 28 on the medal table with a total of twenty (20) medals, comprising of seven (7) silver and thirteen(13) bronze medals in a fiesta that comprises of 232 athletes and backroom staff.

The Voice also reports that Team Delta became the overall winner having won 320 gold, 200 silver and 128 bronze totalling 648 medals followed by Team Bayelsa and Edo emerging as 1st and 2nd runners up.

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