The federal government has restated its determination to use the National Identification Number (NIN) rather than facial screening of athletes during National Youth Games with a view to ensure speedy elimination of age cheat in the Games
Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, gave the assurance on Sunday in Asaba, the Delta State Capital during an interactive session with journalists.
Senator Owan Enoh stated that his directive to the officials on the mandatory presentation of National Identity Number during the screening of athletes was irreversible as Government is determined to get it right from the grassroots.
While clarifying the issue on facial screening that NIN must be used to resolve it, and athletes must insist on it, he added that the system may not be perfect for the moment but we all must ensure that we improve on the process for the purpose of sports development in the country.
He informed that age cheat in the game meant for the discovery and development of budding talents for the country at the grassroots has become a cankerworm which if not completely eliminated, was capable of crippling government’s efforts at developing grassroots sports
“The issue of age cheat in sports is an area in which the Ministry requires the support and collaboration of all stakeholders, including the media. On our part, one of the innovations at this year’s edition of the Games is the introduction of the National Identity Number (NIN) as part of the verification process for athletes. Working with other stakeholders, we shall keep improving the process as we move along until we reduce to the barest minimum, the issue of age cheat in sports. We have to get this right as a nation if we hope to achieve sports excellence. I have directed that NIN presentation is a compulsory requirement for screening and the directive has not been reversed,” he said.
The Minister explained that his focus on Sports Development is grassroots and Elite sports. Government he said, will continue to support grassroots sports through the provision of infrastructure upgrade using the National Sports Industry Policy (NSIP) provisions when it fully becomes implemented.
He noted that this year’s edition of the Youth Games provides a unique opportunity for us to rewrite the story of our sports in the country as it is coming at a time when we have a President who is interested in uplifting the sports sector to the next level with the creation of a Ministry solely responsible for sports.
“I can assure you that the present leadership of President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu shall pay undivided attention to the development of the abundant talents in the nation. We do this not just with an eye on podium performances but for creating a career pathway for our youth and millions of job opportunities in the sports value chain, reduce poverty amongst our youth and encourage inclusiveness of women participation in sports with a view to improving security,” he said.
He assured further that government will continue to ensure early exposure of athletes to necessary infrastructure that will equip them not only to exhibit their sporting talents but also to afford them the opportunity to equip themselves for transition to the elite stage