It is no news that the City of Warri has been the central focus of the Delta State Government in the past few months owing to the forth coming Africa Youth Championships to be hosted by the oil rich state.
The five-day event under the auspices of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) is the latest on the calendar of the continental body and targeted at athletes between the ages of 16-17 years. Hosting the 1st African Youth Athletics Championships scheduled to hold between March 27 and March 31, delta state government had set up an 11 man committee to ensure the success of the august event. Speaking at the briefing which held at the Delta State Liaison Office on Karimu Kotun Street in Victoria Island, Lagos, the Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), Amaju Melvin Pinnick, noted that the state was ready to host a championship that will be remembered for Long.
His words: “We are ready in Warri to host the first edition of the Africa Youth Athletics Championship. Our stadium, our hotels and hospitals are world-class and ready to host the visitors. This is one championship that will restate Delta as the preferred destination for sports after hosting the African Women Championships on more than one occasion in the past”, he said.
Amaju who disclosed that the Delta State government had approved the sum of N300 million for the junior track and field championships, however, appealed to corporate Nigeria to support the hosting with whatever they can give.
“Delta State government has approved N300million for the LOC while the Delta State Oil Producing Commission (DESOPADEC) has also promised to build a warm-up track that is the first of its kind in West Africa at the Warri City Stadium for the use of athletes. We are however still calling on other corporate bodies to support our hosting”.
President of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), Chief Solomon Ogba, confirmed that the Nigerian team would be selected after the final of Pastor D.K Olukoya U-18 National Championships which ends today (Friday) at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. “We will pick our team after the final of Olukoya championships and move the athletes to Port Harcourt for close camping. I want to assure that we will present a formidable team to the Africa Youth Championships. “In fact, this is the right platform we need to discover talents, what we have been using before now is trial and error,” Ogba said. He also made mention of the just bought Timetronics device for the Warri event. It is the first time that we will be using EDM (Estimated Distance Measurement) device in Nigeria. I’m happy that we are moving forward and AYAC 2013 will be of high standards,’’
It means that officiating officials will no longer use tapes to measure distances in events like Long Jump, Javelin etc. ’’Timetronics is the latest of them all. It is good that we have it now in Nigeria,’’ Yusuf Ali, holder of Nigeria’s Long Jump record said yesterday.
Meanwhile, the host country, Nigeria and other countries in the continent of Africa, including Algeria, Angola, Benin Republic, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros Island, Congo Kinshasa, are to battle for honours at the upcoming event.
Others include: Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda and Zimbabwe, the Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia and Mali, while Ghana is a notable absentee African Youth Athletics Championship.
Apart from Nigeria that has entered 80 athletes for most of the events to be competed for at the Warri 2013, Ethiopia comes a distant second with 42 athletes followed by South Africa to be represented by 30 athletes.
Egypt and Mali are tied on 24 athletes for the continental showpiece introduced primarily to encourage African countries to have ready pool of athletes in waiting to step into the shoes of those retiring. Some of the other top African nations coming to Nigeria for the junior meet include Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Uganda, and Algeria.