All may not be well in the camp of Team Edo as the 19th National Sports Festival began yesterday in Abuja.
We learnt that athletes and officials of the state initially refused to embark on the journey to Abuja on Wednesday morning, protesting over alleged non-payment of their camp allowances for the two weeks they were in camp preparing for the fiesta.
Before the protest on Wednesday, there were disquiet within the camp of Team Edo as the athletes and officials complained of alleged shoddy treatment in the run up to the Games.
Edo State hosted and won the 2002 edition of the National Sports Festival under the administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion. Team Edo was beaten to the top position two years later by Delta State, when Abuja hosted the 2004 edition of the fiesta.
Since then, Team Edo had been struggling to catch up with Delta State on the medals table.
With Governor Godwin Obaseki’s interest in sports, coupled with the recent appointment of sports analyst, Godwin Dudu Orumen, as chairman of Edo Sports Commission, many are looking forward to see a ‘focused’ Team Edo at Abuja 2018 National Sports Festival.
But things seem to be falling apart even before the commencement of the festival.
It was alleged that funding had been a major issue for Team Edo, as coaches had to personally fund the training and preparation of their athletes following alleged non-release of funds by the state government.One of the coaches alleged that he had to use his ‘meagre’ resources to feed and take care of athletes under his watch.
Corroborating the coach’s comments, one of the athletes said it was very sad that despite their readiness to win laurels for the state, they had been treated shabbily by the state.
He said the sorry state of preparation was surprising to him and his colleagues particularly as they know the seriousness Governor Obaseki attached to the Games, especially as he has signalled the intention of the Edo State Government to host the next edition of the festival.