The Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung has urged International Federations to provide an enabling environment for African athletes to compete with their contemporaries from other continents.
Speaking in Lagos at the weekend during a visit to Upbeat Recreation Centre, an on going private initiative construction of the first ever trampoline park in West Africa, the Minister said that the dearth of training facilities on the continent has been responsible for the mass exodus of young talents from Africa to Europe, America, Asia and recently, the Middle East.
“The joy of an athlete is to have the availability of facilities to train, and once these are available, athletes can remain in their countries train, raise their profiles, compete and make their countries proud. A time will come in international competitions when there will be no other country competing except African athletes competing against each other under different countries of the world.”
According to Barrister Dalung, International Federations should put developmental policies in place to invest in building training infrastructure in Africa to reduce the drain of talents.
“Integrity in sports entails a very free and fair enabling environment for participation. I think Africa has not gotten that. Sports have generally graduated into science. Today, there is no way you can make any positive impact in international competition without good training facilities. They are competing against so many odds because our athletes who remain at home contend with poor training facilities, poor funding and at the end, they end up in the same competitions against their fellow Africans with new nomenclatures.” Dalung said.
The Minister commended the brain behind the world class facility Mrs Moyo Ogunseinde, the Executive Director of Uraga Real Estate for the massive facility of global standard which he said will go a long way to augment the training facilities needed by Nigerian athletes especially gymnasts when completed.
Responding, Mrs Ogunseinde said the sports Centre is geared at repositioning Nigeria as a top-tier sports development nation and to accentuate the development of Nigerian youths for optimum social impact.
“Upbeat Recreation Centre is truly a one-of-a-kind development in West Africa. The quality and design of the facility include sustainability and world class safety measures as well as the various activities which set it apart from any existing recreation facility in Nigeria and West Africa. Upbeat has set a bar of excellence in the real estate sports & recreation market. The availability of a world class Trampoline Park is a great opportunity for expert level and budding gymnasts. Nigeria currently participates at approximately 10% in the Olympics but now we have better chances of participating at up to 50% and winning gymnastic competitions by developing and training our athletes in world class facilities like Upbeat, giving Nigeria and West Africa the potential to produce gymnastic stars.” Ogunseinde said.
The Upbeat Center boasts of high performance sports and recreation facilities, indoor trampolines, an outdoor basketball court and football pitch as well as other fun and fitness facilities.
With a capacity of 500 spectators, ample parking spaces and located on a 1-hectare waterfront site in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, Upbeat Recreation Center is set to be commissioned later in the year.