Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa on Tuesday promised to sustain the Governor Dickson Wrestling Classics after his tenure comes to an end while announcing a special annual recruitment programme and scholarship for young talented sportsmen and women who hail from the state.
The Special Adviser, Media Relations to Dickson, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, said this in a statement quoted the Governor as having made the comment at the closing ceremony of the 3rd edition of the Wrestling Classics at the Indoor Sports Hall, Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa.
According to him, Dickson said that the beneficiaries of the scholarship programme would have the opportunity to study in any higher institution of their choice within or outside the state.
He said: “From now on, the Government of Bayelsa State shall mandate the Ministry of Sports Development to discover young budding talents across all sports in the state.
“I hereby authorise the recruitment of between 50 and 100 sportsmen and women every year, and the first 100 will be employed between now and next month,” Dickson said.
The Governor directed the Commissioner for Sports Development, Mr Perekiye Buruboyefe, to start the process of bringing back athletes of the state’s origin who are representing other states during sporting events.
He described Bayelsa as the headquarters of wrestling in the country.
Dickson gave an assurance that the tournament would be sustained even after his tenure as governor.
He thanked the President of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Mr Daniel Igali and his board for choosing Bayelsa as venue for the national wrestling classics.
The governor said that the administration had prioritised sports development since assumption of office and expressed delight that students from the Sports Academy, Asoama, were represented at the competition.
In his address, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports, Mr Olusola Adesade, said the competition would be used to select wrestlers to represent the country at the 12th All African Games in Morocco in August.
The competition is also a qualifier for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
He commended the governor for his consistent support for the promotion of wrestling and the federation, such as the building of a gym for wrestling in the state.
According to him, Bayelsa has become the leading state in the African continent in terms of wrestling.
Bayelsa state Commissioner for Sports Development, Mr Perekiye Buruboyefe, commended the state government for demonstrating its readiness to support sports development.
He observed that the government demonstrated its support by providing funds for athletes to take part in competitions.
Buruboyefe explained that 513 athletes, 130 officials, 26 states and 16 clubs took part in the 3rd edition of the Governor Dickson Wrestling Classics.
He also noted that one of the discoveries during the event was a student of the Sports Academy, Asoama.
Igali, expressed appreciation to Governor Dickson for his dedication to sports development in the country.
Dickson, he said, was the only governor that made personal sacrifice to attend the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Galsgow, Scotland to encourage his people.
He also thanked the governor for hosting and rewarding of the Wrestling Team to the Commonwealth Games in Goldcoast, Australia.
Igali also commended the administration for being the first state in the country to commence construction of a befitting wrestling gym of international standards for athletes.
He announced that the Federation had now decided to use Bayelsa as their training and camping base.