Tandoh applauds organizers of National Youth Games

The Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh, has applauded the Grassroots and Youth Development department of the Sports Ministry, headed by Dr. Ademola Are, for the excellent organization of the 5th National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Tandoh said in Ilorin that the Youth Games is the only solution to speedy disappearance of world class athletes from Team Nigeria.
He said: “This year’s National Youth Games is well organized compared to what it was in the last three editions. The most striking improvements are the facilities and the screening exercise which was also near perfect. What these tell us is that, the organizers of the Youth Games have listening ears on further development of the Games.”
He added: “The other improvement was on the performances of Team Lagos at the 2019 Games. For us, it has been nothing but excellent, considering the fact that, we presented Under-15 athletes as stipulated by the rules of the Games’ organizers.
“Last year was our first participation in the National Youth Games and we finished second place despite not taking part in all the sports. At the end of the Games, we went back and decided to re-strategize and some of those strategies have worked for us, as we strongly gave consideration to some of the sports we have comparative advantage.
“We are beginning to see the results, so far, the Team Lagos has done very well, with the even spread of medals covering various sports, and it gives us good advantage. We believe so much that at the end of the Games we would have put up our best performance so far in the history of the National Youth Games.”
He stressed that: “We take delight in the overwhelming improvement and top performance of Team Lagos in the swimming event. This was a sport that we won only silver and a bronze at the last edition of the festival. This year, we won five gold medals, nine silver and two bronze medals in swimming.
“In this year’s Youth Games, out of the two hundred and forty eight athletes presented by Team Lagos for the Games, only two were screened out by the facial analysis screening methodology approach by the NYG screening team.
This improvement was made possible by a carefully selected training and developmental regime put in place by the Lagos Sports Commission, with the support of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who himself is a passionate follower of sports.
“It was also a one hundred percent performance in the football event, where Team Lagos won all the available gold medals in the event, in the male and female categories.”
Tandoh noted that: “Aside from all the medals so far won by Team Lagos athletes, the performances of the athletes have been wonderful in all the sports. We expect that such heartwarming performances will continue.”
The Lagos Sports Commission chairman stated that, for Lagos State our focus as a commission is sports development, in form of school sports and Community base development. In fact, the national Youth Games for us is more important that the National Sports Festival, because we believe this is where we begin to produce those talents that we will present to represent the state and indeed Nigeria.
“We take it very seriously, in each of the sports we have restrategized after the last National Youth Games. We constituted the boards of the state sports associations December last year and they are all in place. I must say that, I am very happy with what many of the boards have done since they resumed activities. We are beginning to see the production of new athletes. I must say that, out of the athletes representing Team Lagos at Ilorin 2019, only about 30 percent are returnee athletes from the last Games. That production line has started and that is what gives us great joy. And ofcourse, we could not have done these without the support of the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who gave us everything that we required to prepare for this Games. We are looking at the long term. We believe in Lagos that sports development should be the focus of all states Sports Commissions. Let us begin to bring up all these talents from the youth and that is why I strongly support the decision of the Director of Grassroots, Youth Development in the Sports Ministry, Dr. Ademola Are, who reduced age-grade of participants in the Youth Games from 17 years to 15 years. When it come to youth development, the younger the better. With Under 17, the focus was always on winning competitions and not developmental. The Under 15 category for the National Youth Games is good because what that tells you, is that, you have to start preparing your athletes from age 10 and that is the best time to prepare them, and that will provide the opportunity in four to five years time for these youngsters to reach their target marks. For us in Lagos, the Youth Games is actually the test of the work the Sports Commissions and the Sports Agencies across the country are doing.”
Tandoh also appealed to sports administrators from all the states of the federation to stop using over-aged athletes for age-grade events.
“We want to appeal to some of the Sports Agencies from across the country, that it is not a do or die thing. We have seen some athletes at Ilorin 2019 that are far above the regulated 15 years old. I am a medical Doctor I have a bit of insights into knowing athletes that are overaged. By using over-aged athletes, the administrators, will be forced to falsify athletes ages. It’s not a do or die thing, if your athletes are 15 years or more, then you begin to prepare such athletes for National Championships of the sports or the National Sports Festival. Let the Under 15s only compete at the SYG, lets know those who are the true Under-15s because that is what Nigeria will benefit from. We don’t want over-aged atheletes at 19 years old or 20 years, to come here to win nine gold medals and after one year he or she is nowhere to be found. That doesn’t augur well for sports development. So I want to appeal to all of us, administrators to stick to what the rules say. For example in Lagos, before this edition of the National Youth Games, we had our own screening and took out athletes that we felt were overaged, or looked over aged.”

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