Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau has rewarded winners of gold medals for the state at the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) in Benin with one million Naira each.
The governor announced the reward on Monday at the Government House in Jos, during a dinner organised to honour Plateau’s participants of the sports festival which was held in April.
He added that silver medalists were to receive N700,000 and bronze medallists N500,000, while the coaches of medal-winning athletes or teams were given N300,000 each.
In his remarks, Lalong said the reward was part of efforts to motivate them for their good performance.
He added that the event was also an opportunity to celebrate their achievements at Edo 2020 where they emerged as “the state with the highest number of medals in the North-Central zone.”
“The Plateau contingent took the 13th position and came home with 37 medals, made up of eight gold, 13 silver and 16 bronze.
“Although our aim was to emerge top, we are nevertheless proud of the efforts of our contingent who gave their best.
“Your performance reaffirms the sporting prowess our athletes have been known for over the years, having exhibited a high level of competence, endurance, versatility, professionalism and discipline,” the governor said.
He said his administration has sponsored sportsmen and women to various championships and tournaments, which resulted in winning a total of 170 gold, 157 silver and 170 bronze medals.
Lalong stated that his administration was committed to developing sports infrastructure in spite of paucity of funds in the state.
He added that younger athletes would also be employed soon to replace ageing ones.
“A consortium has been consulted, to assess the state of the Rwang Pam Stadium with a view to overhauling it, while grassroots sports development would be put in view in the state.
“I have directed the Commissioners for Sports and Education, as well as Local Government and Chieftancy Affairs, to work together in restoring and reinvigorating the various school competitions, community games and other engagements which have huge benefits for talent discovery,” the governor said.
He pointed out that developing sports in the state would help to engage the youths and discourage them from involvement in crime.
“Sports is critical in consolidating peace, through uniting people across ethnic, religious and political divides,” Laling said.
He urged sports men and women, as role models in the society, not to indulge in drug abuse and other social vices inimical to their well-being and the society.
Earlier in his remarks, the Commissioner for Sports, Victor Lapang, thanked Lalong for creating the enabling environment which facilitated the good performance of the state’s participants at the sports festival.
Responding on behalf of the medalists, the Plateau team captain, Ifeoma Dennis, thanked the governor for his kind gesture of reward, while promising to perform better in subsequent competitions.
She however appealed to the governor to review their salaries to meet current economic indices, while incorporating other athletes into the state’s payroll.