By Muhyideen Jimoh
Alhaji Ismaila Abubakar, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, has pledged more support for the development of gymnastics in the country.
Abubakar made the pledge on Wednesday in Abuja, when the Tony International Gymnastics (TIG) Club paid him a courtesy visit to present medals won at the 39th edition of the Gymstar International Club World Championship in Malta.
The permanent secretary, who commended the efforts of the kids that represented Nigeria at the championship, stressed the need for the grassroots development of the sport.
He said the ministry was committed to ensuring better equipment and infrastructure that would aid the development of gymnastics in the country.
He, therefore, called on the founder, TIG, Tony Asuquo to work more closely with the Gymnastics Federation of Nigeria (GFN) to present areas where the ministry can support, especially in terms of infrastructure.
“I want to commend the team for making Nigeria proud and I can assure you that these young talents will be recognised.
“The ministry will continue to support the development of gymnastics in the country, especially in the area of infrastructure.
“So you need to articulate your needs in collaboration with the Gymnastics Federation of Nigeria, so that we can look into it with a view to assisting,” he said.
Abubakar underscored the need to ‘catch them young’ while combining sports and education in the development of our young talents.
Earlier, Tony Asuquo, Head Coach and Founder, TIG urged more support from the ministry and other stakeholders to develop the sport in the country.
He decried the lack of support for gymnastics in the country, while emphasising on the need to have modern gymnasiums and equipment to train young gymnasts.
Asuquo said in spite of the lack of support, the eighth young gymnasts from the club, who represented Nigeria at the championship won 23 medals in different categories.
“This is the first time the team is participating in a championship in Europe and among 198 gymnasts, our eight young athletes were able to win 23 medals.
“These are young kids below 12 years old and they are really doing well, so with more exposure and support, we can groom them to be super stars,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the championship was held from July 6 to July 18 in Malta.
The young gymnasts between ages six and 11 years that represented Nigeria include Francisca Okpanku, Chinelle Okpanku, Shemilore Adeoye, Marononi Angela, Mmesoma Okafor, Chimamanda Okafor, Adela Adedeji and Anana Adedeji.(NAN)
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola