By Femi Atolagbe
Despite no budgetary allocation, the General Manager of Ondo State Sports Council, Mr Henry Babatunde has not foreclosed the state’s participation in the maiden edition of the Para National Sports Festival 2022,(Para NSF).
The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has finalized plans for the hosting of the first National Para-Sports Games in Nigeria, tagged “Abuja 2022.”
The event is scheduled to take place in April 2022, with Abuja as the host city.
But the Ondo State Para -athletes and their coaches hope of participating in the National para competition fiesta still hangs in balance.
A source told Sporting Hope correspondent that “we don’t know if we are going or not and we have been training for it since, all they are telling us was there is no money for the competition.”
The General Manager in a chat said “we are aware of the competition, but our challenge was that Para National Sports Festival was not captured in our 2022 budget.
“However, We are not losing hope of participation, immediately we heard of the competition, we swung into action by reaching out to the agency for the people with disability to seek for their help.”
The Agency responded positively by asking us to bring our estimate for the festival, which we have sent to them and we are hoping by the grace of God they will be able to assist us.”
Babatunde further disclosed that the Agency promised to assist saying the council will start the online registration of the athletes that would be representing the state as soon as the porter is open.
He added that “we are doing our best to ensure that our para – athletes are participating in the sports festival, adding that the major issue was that there was no budget for para National Festival in the 2022 budget of the Ondo State Sports Council.
“And once you don’t have budget for a competition, the possibility of participation is very slim, but our prayer is that we get fund from the Agency for the people with disability.
“If we are able to get fund from them, definitely we are going to participate in the competition.
“The para athletes association has been working hard to ensure the state is participated by going out to meet individuals who can be of help to them. We are going to have a meeting with them to know how far they have gone about it.”
“We were not informed early that there will be a para national sports festival this year, it was only Lagos State that attended the meeting they held recently in Abuja.
“We love to participate, we are preparing for the games, and we hope to get help, invariably, if we couldn’t get the needed fund there is nothing we could do about it.
“Being the first edition, we cannot say what will be the sanction on us if we didn’t participate; I think they cannot make it compulsory for us, knowingfully well that we were not given information about the competition on time.”
“I’m sure the next edition will be in our budget and we will plan for it and ensure will participate.”