The chairman of Anambra State sports development, Patrick-Estate Onyedum, has said the state will review its participation in the National Youth Games (NYG) as deliberate steps were not taken to address the malaise of age cheat which is defeating its essence.
Mr Onyedum said this on Sunday at the close of the 7th edition of the NYG in Asaba, Delta State capital, where the state finished 8th on the medals table with an all-time best record of 22 medals including seven gold, six silver and nine bronze.
He thanked Gov. Chukwuma Soludo for his support and investment in the sports sector, noting that it was unfair that some states would go to age-bound competitions with children within the range only to find themselves competing against much older counterparts.
He blamed the ugly trend on desperation for medals and monetary rewards to coaches, noting that it was time organisers of the games went back to the original ideas of NYG.
“If this trend of age cheating, by re-including screened-out athletes, continues, Anambra may have to boycott subsequent editions.
“The last administration introduced the use of National Identification Number as a means of screening athletes but the officials dropped it even though it is not perfect.
“Like I said, if the organisers tow this line again, I may have to advise the governor that we should withdraw our children from the NYG.
“We have to go back to the original idea of NYG which is talent discovery; that is why there was nothing like medals in the early editions. It is the desperation for medals that is responsible for the encouragement of age cheating by coaches and states,” he said.
On the exploit of the Anambra team under him as chairman of the Sports Commission, Mr Onyedum said their performance and records were impressive and a huge improvement over previous outings given the unfair competitive environment they found themselves in.
He said he had a strong plan to retain the discovered athletes through his grassroots-driven approach with the aim of restoring Anambra to its pride of place in Nigeria’s sports.
According to him, “I have a plan to keep these athletes in shape and also make them fly the Anambra flag to the world stage. Nobody will take these talents from us, instead, I will spend my personal money.
“I had conceived my vision and plan for Anambra sports development 10 years before I was appointed and I have pursued it as an individual through sponsorship of grassroots competitions.
“Our record at the 2023 NYG is a success for Anambra and a huge improvement over the past years, I want to thank my predecessors for starting the race, I hope to take the baton to the next level,” he said.
Anambra team won gold in the following events, 4x100m female, 100m female, high jump female, Taekwondo poomsae single and team, beach volleyball male and karate kumite individual.
The team won its silver in female rugby, gymnastics Vault, 200m girls, 100m female, and two in chess.
They won nine bronze medals in various events including 200m girls, volleyball boys and volleyball girls.