ODAHIEKWU OGUNDE, Yenagoa
Bayelsa State Governor Douye Diri says his administration prioritises sports development because it is an investment in youths of the state and a good avenue to discover and utilise their talents.
Diri also said that sports promote the government’s agenda of fostering peace and unity.
He spoke at the closing ceremonies of the Bayelsa Governor’s Football Tournament otherwise known as the Prosperity Cup at the Samson Siasia Sports Complex in Yenagoa, a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, said on Wednesday.
He said his administration’s investment in sports was yielding good results in the performance of the state’s athletes in national competitions in the last two years.
He noted that apart from the state’s football and basketball teams recording remarkable feats in national competitions in recent times, the Prosperity Cup with 206 participating teams is recognised as the largest grassroots football competition in Nigeria.
He also recounted that the Governor Douye Diri National Scrabble Championship, which second edition ended on Sunday in Yenagoa, is the biggest scrabble competition in the country at the moment.
He said through the football tournament, many talents were discovered by scouts that came from outside the country, adding that the state’s football club, Bayelsa United, would also be a beneficiary of the tournament.
Diri appreciated his predecessors for the annual competition, saying his government had to embrace and sustain the lofty idea.
The governor commended the organisers, saying the standard displayed by the two teams in final game was very high and could be compared to any final match in the world.
He challenged the youths in the state to focus on discovering their talents, noting that they had no business with illicit drug activities or consumption.
Diri said: “We believe that this is the best way to engage our youths.
Through this tournament, a lot of talents will be discovered. Scouts have been here and I believe Bayelsa United will be the most benefiting club from the tournament.
“I congratulate all the participating teams. As you know, sports and in particular football is a unifier. This tournament has brought together 206 teams across our state. It is the largest grassroots football tournament in this country.
“It has also fostered peace and unity in our state. So, let me appreciate the founding fathers that introduced this governor’s football tournament.
“This is a government of prosperity and those of you that have the skill, I am sure this tournament has exposed you to a brighter future. So try to discover where your talent is.
You have no business with illegal drug activities, consumption and the attitudes that some youths exhibit. This is the right attitude to exhibit and you are very sure your government will support you.”
Diri expressed the optimism that the state would become the centre of sports and sports events in Nigeria.
He restated his call on individuals and companies operating in the state, particularly the oil producing companies, to take a cue from what the government was doing by investing in sports and the youths.
The final match between Odioma community of Brass Local Government Area and Eternal Grace Ministry of Yenagoa ended 2-1 in favor of the latter, which took the winners N5m prize money while Odioma got N2.5m.