The Minister of Youth and Sports Development Mr. Sunday Dare has called on on well meaning Nigerians to come together to ensure that Team Nigeria succeeds at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Dare made the call Monday, while speaking at the launch of the Adoption Campaign at the Civic Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos.
The Minister who acknowledged that the government cannot do it alone, informed guests at the event that Nigeria need N14bn to prepare for the Olympics in 2020 but had just N2bn in the budget.
“This is why we want the corporate world to come in and support our quest to do well at the Olympics. Government can not do it alone,”he said.
He urged all at the event to help keep the hopes of the athletes alive by supporting the initiative. “The hope of the athlete is to be at the Olympics, or the World Championship for their sport; to stand on the podium, and fly their country’s flag.
“They want to be the reasons why Nigeria’s flag should be hoisted and the national anthem is sung while the world watches. This is their reward; but it is also our honour and prestige, and pride among nations. It is this hope that drives them to invest in themselves, to work hard, to endure all odds, and try to surmount every challenge. We are that hope tonight. Let’s not dash it”, the Minister appealed.
Dare also said Nigeria’s sports sector that has the biggest potential to catapult the country into the top ten economies in the world, has not achieved that because the sector struggles with the biggest challenges which includes very low investments.
He added, “For the Adoption Programme, we hope to reach at least 25 number of athletes in 11 number of sports, with our 2020 Tokyo Olympic hopefuls. It is our belief that we have partners here tonight who will adopt one, all or any number of the athletes and support them to win gold. By this, we hope we can give them the right pedestal to flourish, guarantees increased chances of success at the games”.
“Adopt just one – an athlete, a facility, a stadium – or it could just be a training track, or a boxing ring, or the volleyball court at the corner of that community”, Mr. Dare urged.
“There’s something we can each do.
“These athletes and youth; they are each travelling the road of their dreams. And only need a little support from us. We can just line the sidelines of their path with a cup of water, or offer a simple clap to provide some push, or just a cheery shout that tells them “we are game!” Sometimes all they need is the little air around them to breathe. We are, by our collective or individual choices, creating and providing that air tonight.
Our actions, no matter how little, will assure them that their journey is not a solo performance, but a team work. And we’re that team”, he charged the gathering.
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Dare’s speech paid off as some dignitaries at the event keyed into the Campaign. Notable among them, business mogul Sir Kessington Adebutu, also known as Baba Ijebu, agreed to renovate the National Stadium in Surulere and received a standing ovation from all at the gathering.
The Deputy Governor of Edo state Rt. Hon. Philip Shuaibu also adopted a Nigerian based athlete. Another philanthropist known as ‘Halogen’ adopted Adekuroye Odunayo while Tobi Amusan was adopted by another philanthropist. The Overseas based Adopted athletes are to get $20,000, while those at home would pocket $10,000 from the individuals and corporate bodies that adopted them.
Popular Nigerian musicians, Dare Art Alade and Nice were on hand to thrill the gathering with nice renditions.