The General Manager of Ekiti State Sports Council, Olu Adewumi says youth development is the priority of the state, disclosing that thousands of young talents have been discovered through the initiative.
Adewumi, who spoke exclusively to eyeonthesports.com at his office inside the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti, on Thursday, said well over 200 young boys and girls were discovered in athletics alone, while other numerous talents abound in sports such as basketball, hockey, handball, table-tennis, tennis and football to mention just a few.
“We have the honour of our Governor, Kayode Fayemi, whose main concern is to ‘catch them young’, and we are working really hard to groom our athletes from the grassroots” the Ekiti Sports Council GM told eyeonthesports.com.
He stressed further that the state government has been supportive of the grassroots sports initiative, saying one of the measures of realising the Talent Hunt Programme is the segmentation of the state into zones, where the pull of talented athletes are selected during grassroots competitions amongst the local governments and in the zones.
“We attach at least two coaches to each of the six zones in Ekiti State to hold trials and competitions in all the sports at their various domains. The talents discovered through the local governments and the six zones are also engaged at the state level, where the best athletes are selected to form our state’s team”, he explained.
On how Ekiti compensates the athletes who are doing the state proud in national competitions, Adewumi disclosed that jobs are provided as main incentives to all medal winners apart from financial incentives.
He noted that all the athletes that won medals for Ekiti State at the last National Sports Festival held in Lagos State, were given employments and that more are being engaged via their hard work as sports personalities.
The state’s athletes currently use the facilities at the Oluyemi Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti to train for competitions, while the facilities at the other stadia in Ikere Ekiti, Ijero Ekiti and Ikole Ekiti need upgrading, to serve as alternative training/competition venues for the athletes discovered at the zones.
Meanwhile, Adewumi told eyeonthesports.com that Ekiti will hold its zonal games this month to select the athletes that will represent the state at the Youths Sports Festival slated for Ibadan in December this year.