Fifty University contingents on Saturday participated in the opening march past of the 25th Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) being hosted by the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi. (UAM).
The Games are holding from April 22 in five venues across Makurdi, Benue.
Speaking at the opening ceremony in Makurdi, Emmanuel Kucha, the host vice chancellor, regretted the delay in hosting and blamed it on the economic crunch in the country.
Mr. Kucha, a professor, said the successful hosting of the games by a non conventional university had opened a new vista in the history of the NUGA Games in the country.
“Past hosts of NUGA games relied on donations from corporate organisations and companies, but the university could not benefit from these organisations because of the economic recession in the country.”
He regretted that the economic crunch was responsible for the delay but commended the unrelenting spirit of his team in ensuring that the games were held in spite of the daunting challenges.
He appealed to the athletes to showcase their talents and skills within the limits of the rules regulating the games.
“It is my sincere hope that the athletes participating in this game will see themselves as ambassadors of their institutions and exhibit the highest standards of discipline and true spirit of sportsmanship,” he said.
He also warned athletes against the intake of performance enhancement drugs, saying that they should endeavour to make friends while the game lasts.
Also speaking, the President of NUGA, Prof. Stephen Hamafyelto, harped on the relevance of sports in human development, and urged institutions to provide adequate sporting facilities to enable students exhibit their talents.
“The advantage for students that are skilled in sports is that they graduate from citadels of learning with double carriers.”
He said it was important for universities to wake up to the need for the training of youths in sports, “so that they are not only consumers of sports but partake in the economy that sorts present”.
Earlier, Prof. A. R. Kimbir pledged to host a hitch free tournament and assured of security of lives and property both during and after the games.
Also, Governor Samuel Ortom, in his speech, called on athletes to exhibit good sportsmanship during the game and use the period to make friends and relax from the rigors of academic work.
He commended the management of the UAM for hosting the games, saying that his administration was committed to sports development by upgrading sports infrastructure in the state.
NAN reports that the opening football match between UAM and Kaduna State University (KASU) could not hold owing to the late start of the opening ceremony.
The highlight of the occasion was the administration of game oath to athletes and officials by NUGA officials.