The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, on Thursday expressed commitment to continually utilise sports as a veritable tool to productively engage the youth towards developing their talents.
Mr Dickson gave the assurance in Yenagoa, while speaking at the quarter- final draws ceremony of the Restoration Cup.
During the event, former Super Eagles Coach, Samson Siasia, was unveiled as the tournament’s ambassador.
Represented by the Chief of Staff, Government House, Talford Ongolo, the governor noted that his investments in the sports sector, particularly the establishment of the sports academy would harness the budding talents in the state.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Francis Agbo, described sports as a money spinner, a unifying factor and a recreational activity, capable of diverting youths away from crimes.
While thanking the organisers of the football tournament and the Bayelsa-born Samson Siasia for their significant contributions to sports development, Mr Dickson restated his administration’s readiness to celebrate sons and daughters, who have made the state proud.
He urged the youth to also strive to develop their skills, while pursuing their academic careers, pointing out that, fame and fortune would come their way, if they remain focused and diligent in the pursuit of their dreams.
In his remarks, the Commissioner for Sports Development, Perekiye Buruboyefe, expressed delight over the enthusiasm and peaceful disposition of the participating teams, noting that over 150 communities and organizations registered for this year’s Restoration Cup tournament.
Mr Buruboyefe urged the teams that have lost out to not to despair as there is always another day to prove themselves. He urged the surviving teams to abide by the rules of the competition.
Also, the chairman of the occasion, Steve Azaiki, stressed the need for all tiers of the government to reward those who have contributed to the development of the country, to serve as role models to the younger generation.
Responding, Mr Siasia lauded the initiative of the state government, in using the tournament as a platform to identity and groom young ones at the grassroots level, stressing that, the gesture would go a long way in fishing out talented Bayelsans to play for national and foreign football clubs.
He expressed gratitude to the organizers and the state government for the honour done him, assuring that, the move would spur him to do more for the development of sporting activities in the state.
In their separate remarks, the Director General of the Restoration Cup, Onoriode Akpe and its Director of Publicity, Daniel Alabrah, described this year’s edition of the tournament as outstanding, noting that, they were overwhelmed by the display of skills and the level of discipline exhibited by the participating teams.
According to them, 8 hat-tricks have been recorded so far, adding that, the quarter-finals would kick off on Sunday, the 20th of this month across the various local government areas simultaneously.
Highpoint of the ceremony was the picking of the drawing of the lots for the quarter-finals and the presentation of branded jerseys to ex-international, Waidi Akanni, among others.