The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has charged Nigerians occupying influential positions to use their platforms to contribute to sports development in the country.
At the unveiling of the 2021 edition of the Nanaye Dickson Traditional Wrestling Competition in Abuja, Mr Dare commended the efforts of the Senator representing Bayelsa West in the National Assembly, Senator Henry Seriake Dickson, and wants people with the same status to emulate him.
The Nanaye Dickson Traditional Wrestling Tournament is an annual sporting event launched in 2012, in honour of the memory of Senator Dickson’s late father, a community leader, an unbeaten wrestling champion, and promoter of the game in his time.
The championship has a major objective to promote grassroots Ijaw Traditional Wrestling, culture and also serve as a talent hunt for the youths of the state.
The minister recalled how the Federal Government adopted the annual wrestling classic initiated by the senator as a national event.
“Senator Dickson has re-affirmed he is a lover of sports. He supported its development as the former Governor of Bayelsa State and now as a Senator,” he said.
Mr Dare urged members of the National Assembly to identify and focus development on a particular sport that has the prevalence of talents in their respective areas in order to produce a new generation of talented athletes in the country.
In his remarks, Senator Dickson said that his interest in sports and commitment to its development remain the same even after his administration which built a sports academy, sponsored a football tournament known as the Restoration Cup for eight years and the Nanaye Dickson Wrestling Classic which was adopted by the Federal Ministry of Sports.
He said the event will continue to honour wrestlers from Bayelsa and hope they will keep dominating the sport in Nigeria and the African continent. The state has the highest concentration of wrestling champions.
A major talking point from the event was the presentation of bank drafts of N2 million to Bayelsa-born Olympic Silver medallist, Blessing Oborodudu, and N500,000 to her coach, Mr. Victor Kode.
The President of Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Mr Daniel Igali, who was represented by the Vice President, Mr Christopher Amkpila, appreciated the Senator for his unwavering support towards the development of the sport.
According to Senator Dickson, the Henry Seriake Foundation, which unveiled the Nanaye Dickson Wrestling Tournament, is also the sponsor of the ongoing community-based grassroots football competition, the Ofuruma Pepe Cup, which involves 100 teams and 1000 young boys.
“As you all know, as governor of Bayelsa, I did my best to promote sports in all its ramifications. We established a sports academy, we have several young people who are receiving both academic training as well as exposure to sports development that is taking place even now.
“For eight years, we also sponsored a football tournament known as the Restoration Cup, and the products of that initiative are all over the world, and I want to thank my team for that. We also sponsor the wrestling classic named after me and my father.
“I’m grateful that your predecessor and you adopted our wrestling classic as a national classic. All the wrestlers in our country assemble there in readiness for international competitions,” he said
Chairman of the occasion, who is also the Chairman of the House Committee on Youth and Sports, Senator Obinna Ogba, called on politicians to emulate Senator Dickson stressing that no money invested in sports development is wasted.
Senator Ogba said he was not surprised that the former Governor decided to sustain his interest and investment in sports development even after leaving office because sports investment means investing in the future.