Ademola Are: We're serious about curbing age cheats at National Youth Games
Ahead of the forthcoming 5th edition of the National Youth Games in Ilorin, the Director of Grassroots Sports Development in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, Dr Ademola Are has said the games organisers are serious about tackling the menace of age cheats. In this exclusive chat with Trust Sports, the sports administrator spoke on preparations and what to expect at the cadet games holding from 7-17 September in Ilorin.
What is the level of preparation for the 5th edition of the National Youth Games to be staged in Ilorin?
Thank you very much. So far the ministry has been able to put certain things into motion. We held a technical committee meeting among the directors and the ministry officials. We have had like two meetings between the MOC and LOC. We have done site inspections to ensure the facilities and accommodation are in proper shape. We are also reaching out to the state government to ensure that they are fully represented at the Games. By and large, the ministry is doing everything humanly possible to ensure that we have a good outing this time around in Ilorin. And also, we are bringing in entertainment where we will be engaging the musical artiste "small doctor', for the opening ceremony just to marry entertainment and sports together. We donít want any excuse this time around especially in the areas of accommodation, feeding which are very key and will be looked into at least. Our target is to provide the athletes with at least minimal comfort in these areas.
How is the ministry preparing to tackle the perennial problem of age cheats at the youth games? I can assure you that the issue of age cheats will be cut down to the barest minimum because we have put in place certain measures. We have appealed to the directors, and other stakeholders involved that the games is strictly for U-15s. We have kids, sisters and brothers and you cannot bring someone who is 18, 19 and claim that person is 15. By pegging the age, it will on its own minimize age cheats. That is the way it is. We are very serious about curbing age cheats and will not tolerate it. States that fail to adhere strictly to the rules and regulations will be penalized. How many sports are going to be featured at the games and are you expecting any new events?
34 federations will be involved. Shooting is now coming in, Roller Skating should have come in but their house is not in order. They have factions here and there and until they can come together as a body, we don't want to encourage a factional representation at the games. Apart from that, Rowing and Yachting that has been on demonstration for sometime will now come in as a full-fledged sport. It is an ongoing project and we keep on introducing new sports as deemed necessary. So we can give the kids the necessary opportunities to do what they need to do.
Are there new innovations, ideas being introduced for the Games?
Music is coming in with full force. That's why we are bringing in 'Small doctor'. We will have our usual acrobatic displays. We will do invitational relay races all for the opening ceremony.
The Africa Youth Games ended recently in Algiers and Nigeria won 105 medals. But we lost out in some of our strong areas like swimming and tennis. What went wrong?
Other countries are fast catching up on us and except we do the needful we might not be able to excel in these sports. Our sports federations need to do more and be more committed. Money should not be the root cause of failure all the time. Our commitment is important. Our attitude towards what we are doing is important. Money is an issue but it should not be a determining factor in winning medals or not. We need to change our attitudes towards these things. How many states have registered for the 2019 National Youth Games? All the states except Sokoto that is still ongoing. Maybe by now they must have finished the registration. We want to accommodate everyone. Once the portal is closed, it is closed. How many athletes are being expected at the games? We are expecting over 5,000 athletes. When is the portal closing? The portal closed last Saturday.
But Sokoto.... (cuts in) Sokoto came down to Abuja. They were on ground so we had to allow them to complete their registration. If many states were involved, that would have been a different case but it is only Sokoto State.