Abuja 2018 Sports Festival, worst ever, says Porbeni

Team Delta athletes warming up for a game at Abuja 2018 National Sports Festival. Porbeni says it was the worst in history of Nigerian sports

Former Nigerian jumper, hurdler and sprinter, Seigha Porbeni says the just concluded 19th National Sports Festival in Abuja was the worst ever organized in the nation’s sports history.

But sports minister, Solomon Dalung, is still counting the ‘gains’ of the sports festival saying that it fetched the nation over N163 million.

Porbeni, a former Director of Sports in Delta State, was an all-rounder in his active days as an athlete, competing in seven different sports. He was Nigeria’s first decathlete, and later trained as a coach.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Porbeni said: “The 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja was terrible.

It was the worst sports festival I have ever seen. It was bad virtually in every area, particularly poor attendances by spectators.

In sports, spectatorship helps to bring the best in athletes. But that was missing in Abuja.

The athletes were all alone just competing against one another without anybody cheering them on. I was there, and I saw what happened. It had never been so bad for the National Sports Festival.

“Apart from poor spectatorship, the Abuja 2018 sports festival was the lowest in terms of standard because the usual competition by the states was missing.

It was just Team Delta that was picking all the medals and leading the medals table from day one till the end, unlike before when Edo, Delta and Lagos would be neck-to-neck till the last day of the festival.

But I must commend the athletes, especially those who set new sports festival records in track and feild,” Porbeni stated.

Dalung told journalists on Tuesday that he was overwhelmed by the value added to the country’s economy as a result of the festival.

“The National Sports Festival produced over N163m because I know of at least one state whose Governor promised each gold medalist one million Naira. That state won 163 gold medals and they have made those athletes millionaires. 

“This is besides those who won more than two gold medals. Some states promised half a million naira for each gold medal so the number of millionaires will even rise beyond that and I can confidently state that from the National Sports Festival, we have produced at least 200 millionaires. 

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