Since the coming on board of Senator Bala Muhammed CON, as the FCT Minister, sports development in the Federal Capital Territory has witnessed a tremendous breakthrough; especially, in the area of age-grade sports. As Soon as the man who can simply be described as sport-loving Minister took over affairs of the FCT, he made it known to everyone that sport must be given it pride of place hence it’s a veritable tool for national unity.
The activities of Senator Bala Mohammed in the area of sport clearly shows that he has a mandate from President Goodluck Jonathan to transform the sector in line with the President’s vision for the country.
For instance, the “Abuja Marathon” which has not received any form of support from previous administrations has now being receiving the needed backing for its development.
The Jonathan’s led administration vision for sport is being adequately translated in the entire sub sectors of the FCT particularly sports development. The FCT Administration is not only supporting sport growth at the Territorial level, but it is also complimenting the efforts of various National Sports Federations as well as National Sports Commission.
Some diehard critics may not be happy that FCT Administration is doing well but would not have any option other than to accept the doggedness and pro-activeness of Senator Bala Mohammed in this sector.
Today, it is on record, that FCT has one of the best grassroots sports development programmes particularly in athletics championship through an inter-collegiate athletics championship tagged ‘Athletes of Hope’ that was introduced since 2008 at the advent of the bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which is being sustained by Senator Bala Mohammed’s Administration. The programme was planned in such a way that it dovetails into National and subsequently continental cum international athletics meet to be hosted in Abuja.
The efforts of the present FCT Minister has not gone unnoticed as past AFN Presidents such as Engineer Adeyemi Wilson, Chief Dan Ngerem and the late Technical Director of the Federation in the person of Mr. Sunday Bada had at one time of the other applauded the wisdom in the programme and equally participated in the scheme to ensure a successful commencement of the programme.
The ‘Athletes of Hope’ is one championship that athletes are impressively or handsomely rewarded. For instances athlete that emerge first in any of the sixteen (16) events take home a Laptop and a Printer, a Silver medalist gets a 16 inches coloured Television while a Bronze medalist takes home a DVD Player. As part of the reward too, an athlete that wins three (3) Gold medals is awarded a scholarship and a school where such athlete comes from receive sports equipment to the tune of N1.5m. What a good deal!
At the championship level, cross-country, which represents Marathon, form part of the athletics meet. It is on record that it is only in FCT that age-group competitions are organized especially in team games from wards level (62) through the six (6) Area Councils to the Territorial finals. In each of such competition appropriate sports equipment are distributed to all the wards representatives and funds provided for their organization. This initiative had accounted for the various achievements the Territory has made in Sports in recent times.
It may be recalled that the effective planning and pro-activeness of the sport-loving Minister made it possible for the Under-13 Football team win the 2012/2013 National Championship. Meanwhile, at the maiden edition of the National Youth Games, FCT teams played the finals in most of the team games, like Football (Male and Female), Basketball (Male and Female), Volleyball (Male), whereas other athletes in individual games made impressive outing.
On Tourism, FCT and precisely Senator Bala Mohammed had introduced and sponsored a Pro-Am Golf Championship, which began in 2012 and was acclaimed the highest prized Golf tournament in the country. It attracted Golfers from some other countries.
On Marathon, the FCT Administration is planning that through a systematic and conventional approach, the cross country under the ‘Athletes of Hope’ will develop into becoming a Marathon race that will attract international attention and appreciation.
It equally needs to be reiterated that the FCT Administration has been up and doing and has always continue to support proposals that is professionally and comprehensively packaged. Although, event like Marathon and Golf should naturally be privately driven with little government support. What the Administration is therefore doing is to set the pace for genuine organizers to key in so as to lure-in private organizers.
Since the inception of FCT, this Administration stands out as one that has accorded sports the highest priority, given the fact that as a means of ensuring the development of sports at grassroots level across age group, institutional and communal arrangement. In this regard, Six (6) Community Sports Centres are being constructed one each in all the Six (6) Area Councils. Each of the Centres as a matter of priority will have a synthetic pitch and tracks.
It is also on record that FCT Administration for the past four (4) years has fully sponsored Badminton, Squash, Tennis National Championships under the umbrella of Abuja City/National Badminton Youth Championship, Abuja City/Senate President Squash Championship, etc. In this regard, it would be desirable for Federations to package and brand their programmes properly in their quest to attract sponsorship from sponsors