The Minister of Youths and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has said that Team Nigeria, which emerged second at the just concluded 2019 African Games in Morocco will soon have a Presidential handshake with President Muhammadu Buhari and possibly, with cash reward.
The minister, who spoke to news men today, September 18, shortly after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said that he had already made representation to the President to host the conquering athletes for representing Nigeria well in the Games held in Morocco.
Team Nigeria came second on the table at the 2019 African Games in Morocco with 127 medals behind Egypt which topped the table with 273 medals.
“There will be a presidential reception; the ministry has written the presidency so that the president can give us a date that is suitable for the medalists from Morocco”.
“We are also going to have D’ Tigress and D’ Tigers; D’ Tigress won the Afro-Basketball title; D’ Tigers also qualified for the Olympics; so, when you look at it; we are African champions when it comes to both female and male basketball”.
“As to whether there will be package attached to the reception, it is at the discretion of the president but we will make recommendations”.
The minister said that the nation’s female and male basketball teams had also creditably acquitted themselves and would also be given presidential reception.
“You recall that in August 16 and 31, the All African Games now called African Games held in Morocco; the African Games is often referred to as the African Olympics where we have African countries showcasing their best.
“Nigeria was present and it ended with Nigeria coming second on medals table right after Egypt; Nigeria had 46 Gold medals, 33 silver medals, 48 bronze medals—a total of 127 medals as against that of Egypt that had 273 medals.’’
He said that Nigeria’s performance in Morocco was rated as one of the best when compared to previous times.
According to him, Nigeria’s recent position is significant because it has seen a resurgence of few other sports that it never had any gold in before.
“We had gymnastics coming back; in canoeing, we won two gold medals; in athletics we had witnessed a bit of doldrums but we came first on the athletics table in Morocco”.
“Interestingly too, this time around, in the past our gold medal table was improved because of the para-athletes; for the first time, we did not have the para-athletes; yet we were able to bring in as many gold medals as possible”.
“The female athletes garnered 74 medals against the male athletes who garnered 50 medals; so the female, this time, contributed more to our medal table. We had a seven-week preparation period for camping for Morocco 2019; the lesson learnt is that if we have had a longer period of preparation, we would have been able to win more medals,’’ he said.
Dare said that Morocco would serve as benchmark as Nigeria prepared for the 2020 Olympics.
He said that Nigerian athletes would be going to Doha, Qatar, on Sept. 21 for the Doha Meet, which was almost the equivalent of the Olympics.
The minister said that with the outcome in Doha, Nigeria could measure its preparedness for the forthcoming Olympics.