No fewer than 5,000 students will participate in the 2017 All Catholic Schools Games in Aliade, Benue, the organisers, Directorate of Catholic Education Services, Makurdi Diocese, said on Friday.
Rev. Fr. Godwin Udaa, the Director, Catholic Education Services, made the disclosure in an interview with journalists in Makurdi.
Udaa said the competition would hold from Feb. 20 to Feb. 24 with the aim to enhance students’ physical abilities and for them to socialise.
“Students with special sports talents will be discovered and encouraged. It is a means of engaging youths in more meaningful activities too. “Education is not all about the classroom work but developing talents, and we see the sports sector as a major contributor to such development.
“More than 24 catholic schools comprising male and females students within the diocese made up of Gwer, Gwer-West, Guma and Makurdi Local Governments will participate. “We will reward outstanding students, mentor and ensure that they go higher in the various sports they are skilled.
“When opportunities call for sponsorship to some events or payment of fees, we select them first to encourage others to participate in sports,’’ he said. Udaa said the diocese had visited the proposed venue of the competition to ascertain the readiness of the fields, accommodation, security and alternative source of feeding to complement arrangement made by schools.
“We also met with the games masters of all the schools to help to improve on the conduct of students during the sports fiesta,’’ he said. The director said that students would participate in football, volleyball, and handball, and basketball, racket games such as table tennis, badminton, and tennis.
Other sports are the races, jumps and throw which will feature both the males and female categories. He said the diocese was aware of the recent security challenges in the state and appealed to parents to allow their children and wards to participate as adequate arrangements were being made to secure them. “For the event, we acknowledge that we have issues of insecurity in some local governments, but sufficient security personnel, accommodation and water supply have been made,’’ Udaa said.
The catholic priest said the state’s Chief Security Officer, the AIG of Police, the Commissioner of Police, the vigilance groups; SSS, NSCDC and the Nigerian Peace Corps had been notified. “We further engaged the Divisional Police Officers from each of the local governments participating and the traditional rulers are duly informed.
“The sports fiesta will be alternated with cultural displays so that students can also be introduced to other aspects of social development,’’ he said. The clergyman called on philanthropists and corporate organisations that could co-sponsor the event to do so.