The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, Saturday, stressed the need to find young talents for para-sports games to replace the aging ones.
Dare said this at the opening ceremony of the First edition of the National Para Games, tagged ‘Abuja 2022 Festival’, at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
He said the young talents would represent the country in future international competitions.
According to him, some of these athletes representing the country presently are already aging out of competition.
“The generation of athletes in track and field, in the next one or two years will be easing out.
“There’s need to find younger talent, both for para and the other games.
“That is why we believe in the next 90 days we will have an opportunity to see some of these young talents.
“We will move the talented ones immediately into team Nigeria to go for camping for Commonwealth games for 60 days,” he said.
Dare said the ministry created for the very first time the department for para-athletics.
“We want to build a sustainable model. The first thing is to create a department of para. In the 2022 budget, we have a budget for para-sports itself.
“So, the same way you have the National Youth Games, the National Sports Festival, para sport will also get the budget to fund it,” he said.
Dare said the mandate of the ministry aligned with the vision of the Disability Act, adding that there are disability commission of the National Assembly and committees chaired by lawmakers.
“There’s ability in their disabilities. If there is no competition, no athletes can improve and excel and we felt that they deserve their own special national sports competition,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that 15 Para-Sports Games will feature in the competition.
The sports are Amputee football, Nigeria shooting sport Federation, sitting Volleyball, para table tennis, para-swimming, wheelchair basketball, para taekwondo, and wheelchair tennis.
Others are para-badminton, powerlifting, deaf sport, para-athletics, para soccer, para karate, and para canoe.
NAN also reports that 17 States are represented at the opening ceremony.
They are Gombe, Enugu, Anambra, Adamawa, Abia, FCT Abuja, Yobe, Plateau, Oyo, Kebbi, Ondo, Kano, Edo, Imo, Jigawa, Balyesa, and Bauchi.
NAN reports that the event will kick off on Sunday and is expected to end on April 15.