Over 370 special talents were discovered at the maiden National Youth Games (NYG), which ended last weekend at the Abuja National Stadium, disclosed the Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.
Abdullahi expressed satisfaction with the outcome while stressing his delights with the large turnout of participants and the skills displayed by the young athletes in particular.
“We are very happy with the outcome of the games, with the turnout of athletes, their enthusiasm and skills. With what I saw during the games, I am confident that we have a great future in sports.
“I want assure all the athletes that they are all winners. And for the special talents, we will ensure that they are part of our high performance system, which we have just established,” Abdullahi stated.
The 370 special talents were discovered in 14 sports, namely: football, boxing, basketball, badminton, handball, power lifting, tennis, track and field and squash. Others are weightlifting, wrestling, taekwondo, volleyball and table tennis.
2,917 athletes from thirty-one states and the FCT participated in the games that held between December 6 and December 15. Lagos, Ekiti, Jigawa, Zamfara and Edo states were unable to register their presence.
667 athletes were disqualified from partaking in the Games for being over the minimum age of 17 years before the start.
574 of the disqualified athletes were male, while 93 were female. Benue, Abia and Delta had the highest number of disqualified athletes with 48, 46 and 45 respectively, while Kebbi (seven), Kogi (eight), Kwara (eight), Ebonyi (five), Sokoto (nine) and Kaduna (ten) had the lowest number of disqualified athletes.
Abdullahi had earlier advocated the use of Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scan to detect age cheats in the next edition of the NYG.
According to the minister, who also doubles as Chairman of the National Sports Council (NSC), the states have crucial roles to play in the early discovery of talents.
He said the products of this year’s Games would be admitted into the High Performance Centre, which is expected to take-off next month, under the tutelage of the newly employed sports directors from the United States.