This year’s National Sports Festival, ‘Eko 2012′, got off to a stunning start Tuesday evening, when the hosts, Lagos State presented a glamorous opening ceremony at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos.
Rivers State, that set a standard when it hosted the last edition held in Port Harcourt 2011, and other 35 states including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, were spellbound as a display of cultural exuberance and Eko hospitality took the centre stage in Lagos this evening.
Apart from the Miniature Eyo appearance at the show, Lagos State raised the bar with ‘Eko 2012’ opening ceremony, and the residents of Surulere area felt the splendour of the fantastic show in the air. The show would go down in history going by the success it recorded.
The event, which had so many dignitaries such as: chief host, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Vice President of Nigeria, Namadi Sambo, Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi and a host of others in attendance, was used as an avenue to showcase what the participants would witness during the festival at the Centre of Excellence.
With over 4,000 cast, the glamorous event began with Ball Jugglers who entertained the fans, while a cyclist from Osun State showed his riding skills, as he wowed an average audience at Teslim Balogun Stadium.
As the show continued, the participating states came on board for the match past, and all the participants gave very good account of themselves, especially the Ebonyi State contingent that stole the evening show with their colourful attire to match.
The popular Master of Ceremony, Ali Baba who doubles as a comedian, entertained the fans with rib-cracking jokes, while some artists also performed at the show.
Chairman of the LOC and Deputy Governor of the host, Adejoke Orelope Adefulire, however, charged the participating athletes to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and should see the Festival as an avenue to foster good relationship while competing.
Adefulire said she is convinced that this edition of the multi sports competition would churn out athletes that would represent the country in international sporting competition.
Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, NSC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi disclosed that the NSC would use this festival as part of preparations for the 2016 Olympic Games billed for Brazil.
He added that an Athletics Observatory Team are already on ground in Lagos to identify talents and monitor them till they can represent the country in international competitions,
“The London Olympics have taught us an ugly lesson, so we are going to use this Festival to pick talents that can win medals for the country in the near future”.
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State also advised athletes to play according to the rules of the games saying “I am a product of the Festival and I know what it takes to be part of it. My prayer is that, there won’t be no death or injury during the Festival”.
Representative of President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo said he was impressed with what the host put on ground for the games, and urged the athletes to make more friends during the festival.