The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, on Friday, inaugurated 31 Edo Sports Associations (EDSA) to complement the government’s efforts at driving grassroots sports development across the 18 local government areas of the State.
Inaugurating the associations at the Government House, in Benin City, Obaseki reaffirmed his government’s commitment to leverage sports to boost tourism in the state.
He said, “These associations are 37 in number but today, we are inaugurating 31 to constitute the bedrock of sports in Edo State. Today, we are taking the reforms one step further by focusing on the structure that will manage sports at the grassroots.
“The issue of grassroots sports development is a priority for the State and the associations will help the State take sports to a higher level as we have put in place the necessary governance system, infrastructure and processes to engender change. It took us one year to select and put members of the associations together and I am confident that they will surely help us do a better job in terms of grassroots sports development.”
The governor further noted, “Sports are serious activities globally which serve as a strong tool for social integration, health promotion, and economic development. For us in Edo State, sports is an aspect of our lives that mirrors our essence, our pride, emotion, and credibility as a people. We can't play with sports and that is why we did all to ensure we succeed in sports.”
He noted that when his administration came on board in 2016, it promised Edo people to return the state to its glory days in sports, adding, “Today, it’s evident that we have kept our promise with the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rt. Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu taking charge to lead the way.”
The governor continued: “We took difficult decisions starting with the governance of sports in the State as we enacted a law to set up the Sports Commission and made sports separate from the bureaucracy of government. We focused on building key infrastructure as we built the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium and 20 mini-stadiums across the state.
“We are looking forward, working with our various associations to designate areas in our cities and communities to build sporting infrastructure across the State. Our goal is that in every political ward across the State, there must be sporting facilities and infrastructure. We constituted the sports commission to be chaired by an Olympian and seasoned personality.
“I have no doubt given your integrity, knowledge, and interest in sports that you will help the State facilitate the growth and development of sports in Edo State. Each association’s membership ends at seven but you can improve the membership of the association with another three to a maximum of 10,” he charged.
On his part, Shaibu added that “Nigeria is leaving oil and moving to a digital economy and today, we are resetting sports in Edo State and Nigeria.”
Also, the Chairman of Edo Sports Commission, Yusuf Ali, commended the Obaseki-led administration for reforming sports in Edo, adding that the 31 associations inaugurated were the largest ever inaugurated in the country.