Director of Sports in the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, Alhaji Mohammad Alim, in this interview with JOEL AJAYI in Abuja, denied accusing FCT minister, Bala Mohammed of starving the sector of much-needed funds as well as numerous other issues. Excerpts:
What is your administration doing to develop sports in FCT?
We have recorded a lot of positive achievements under the present administration, whether it was during the recently-concluded National Youth Festival held towards the end of 2012 in Lagos where FCT came 12th out of 37 states of the federation with a total of seven gold, 12 silver and 10 bronze medals.
That single achievement, which was the first and the best of its kind since the Federal Capital Territory joined National competition popularly known as National Festival in 1987 portray the substantial level of sports development in FCT under the present administration; while FCT athletes were believed to be the most youthful out of the other entire participants, with FCT placed above all the 19 Northern states.
What are the mechanisms put in place to drive sports in the territory?
There are no states in this country that have taken sports to the grassroots like the FCT Administration. If you look at sports at federal level, National Sports Commission, the federation, and other states, what are they doing that is so spectacular that FCT is not doing? We do organize sports completion from the 62 wards of the six Area Councils and our athletes are also one of the best-kitted in the country, they have track shoes, they have traditional ware, ceremonial ware, completion ware etc. They have all that it takes and they are well taken care of, be it mentally, physically to do their best in any competition. And if you go to all these National championships here and there, hardly will you see nine states in the top sports chart without the FCT being among.
How do you raise your athletes?
In sports, we have two seasons either you competing or you are training. Sports is not all about competition, it is also about training. If you are off season you go for training. Since I came on board I have never gone to any state to import the athletes from other places to represent the FCT. I make sure the FCT representatives are prepared locally. The FCT Administration is doing all it can to make sure that our most unifying factor which is sports is well developed in the territory. We organized competition in all 62 wards; we also sent equipment to the wards, now tell me if there are any states that have taken sports to the grassroots like FCT? How many states have taken sports programme to the wards level like we have done? Not only that, this is not limited to under 13 alone: the same is done for the first lady’s competition the newly-introduced championship, just as we have the under -17 minister’s cup tagged at secondary schools for male football competition; there is also the First Lady’s female football competition among the girls in the secondary schools.
We do not just organize competitions for teams at the local government level, but we organized it from the ward level and we have 62 electoral wards in the FCT. We do not even organize just competition, we buy kits for teams that qualify from each of those wards and give them; we also give them money to organize competitions.
In 2004 when the FCT hosted the National Sports Festival then, we registered 624 athletes and we came 14th and at the 15th National Sports Festival in Abeokuta we went with 580 athletes and we came 15th. At the 16th National Sports Festival in Kaduna, we went with 500, we came 15th; at the 17th festival in Port Harcourt we registered 198 athletes and we came 14th; at the last National Sports Festival in Lagos, we registered 148 athletes and we came 12th. So, from all indications, we are developing sports in the territory.
Do you have enough facilities to host the National Youth Festival?
Yes. In the six Area Councils, for instance, and for the first time since the creation of FCT, funds have been earmarked for the construction of Sport Centres at the headquarters of each council. It is expected that each council will complement this noble effort that is on- going, by taking full advantage of the facilities to develop their youth population.
It is painful to hear people saying I accused the FCT minister, Senator Bala Mohammed of poorly funding the sport sector, but such accusation is a blatant distortion of all available facts. It is on record that since 2010, this administration has been restructured and redefined toward attaining development and the achievement recorded could not have been possible without adequate funding.
Can we say inadequate facilities caused the shifting of the National Youth games earlier slated for September?
No, no and no I don’t understand why some people think like that. The reason was that, we discovered that by that September the students are still on holiday or probably are just coming back from the long vacation and by that time, we will not be able to get the athletes because the games is channelled towards the secondary school ages and if they are on vacation where do you think these athletes would come from or do they want me to go and import athlete from other states? That is why we decided to put it for December so that after their examination the competition will hold. It is not as result of lack of facilities.
Source: National Mirror Newspaper
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