…Buhari to declare it open
A total of 1,760 athletes are expected to compete in this year’s Nigeria Army Sports Festival in Abuja.
The athletes billed to represent 6 Divisions of the Army, will compete in 19 sports, according to the organisers.
At the same time, a ‘high powered delegation’ led by President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to converge for the opening ceremony of the Sports Festival holdin g at the main bowl of the National Stadium, Abuja, on Monday.
Chairman of the Central Organizing Committee of the 16th edition of the games, Major General John Malu, confirmed this after the final rehearsal for the colorful event.
According to him, “The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces will be the Special Guest of Honour for the opening ceremony. We have invited the 36 state Governors, all the ministers.”
He explained that the week-long event which in the words of Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, is marking the beginning of victory celebration in the war against terror in Nigeria will have about 1,760 athletes across 6 Divisions of the Army competing in 19 sports.
“The war on terror is almost over. If soldiers that are engaged in the fight against terror can have time to come and do sports, then every other person is free to come to Nigeria to invest and go about their businesses peacefully. That is one of the main reasons for this event. To reassure the international community that Nigeria is very safe.”
On the events for the sports festival, Malu said, “In total, they are 19 events cutting across football, table tennis, tennis, chess, scrabble, taekwondo, judo, wrestling, half marathon, Tug of War and boxing among others.
Though athletics is grouped as one event, there are a lot of events in athletics.
There are 3 events that are purely military i.e obstacle crossing and combat relay.”
He concluded that the game is in line with the Federal Government’s decision to take sports back to the grassroots and ensure early preparation for Team Nigeria contingents in future sporting events.
“After the event, we expect that the Nigerian Army would have produced athletes that will represent the nation at the next All Africa Games and the Olympics.”