*By Kazeem Awojoodu, Ibadan.
Governor Makinde on Monday received the world table tennis star Aruna Quadri.
SWIndependentnews.com.ng reports that the Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, on Monday, stated that his administration will continue to develop youths through sporting activities in order to make the sport sector a top source of revenue for not only the state but the entire nation.
He noted that the state intends to achieve the development of talents through a massive investment in sport development, pointing out that the remodelling and rehabilitation of the Lekan Salami Sports Complex and other mini-stadia and training pitches in all zones of the state have begun to yield positive results.
Makinde, who stated these while receiving Oyo State-born table tennis star, Aruna Quadri, at the Governor’s Office, Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, lauded him for making the state and Nigeria proud.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that Quadri’s achievements will always motivate other youths to get involved in sports, adding that the table tennis star is not only a gift to the state but also to the continent of Africa and the world.
Makinde said: “I welcome you, your wife and mother to the seat of government of Oyo State. Let me also congratulate Mama for the gift of Aruna Quadri not only to Oyo State and Nigeria, but to the continent of Africa and the world. May God continue to be with you, Ma.
“This is a good example of what we can do with the talents God gives us.
“For us, in the four main pillars of this administration, the last one, which is the expansion of our economy, taking as many of our youths off the streets, is actually working, as played out here. And the government is not relenting.
This is because we believe that some of the talents we can develop will not only serve as motivation to others but can also become big sources of revenue for the state and the country.
“It may be an appropriate time for me to mention that Sarah Adegoke, who won Gold for Oyo State in the last National Sports Festival, is now in Europe, Spain to be precise, to get taken over by a proper professional so that she can launch her professional career.
“We are also in the process of doing the same thing for Mubaraq. He is a 13-years-old and we are also sending him to Europe. I did this with personal funds, because we didn’t have any budget to support that.
“So, we will continue to encourage people like yourself who are breaking through nationally and internationally to come back to Oyo State and develop sports, and Oyo State will definitely partner with you so that we can do this in an organized manner, and also measure the result coming out of it.
“This is also a good opportunity for me to meet a superstar from Oyo State. Whatever we need to partner to support your effort, believe that we will definitely do it.”
Speaking during the visit, Quadri appreciated Governor Makinde for his support towards sports development, citing the remodelled Lekan Salami Stadium and other stadia in the state”.
While adding that he was proud to be an indigene of the state, Quadri encouraged youths to get involved in sporting activities to reduce crime rate.
He said: “I am very happy for this opportunity of meeting you, which I have been looking for, for more than 10 years. I will like to thank you for the good things you have been doing in the area of sports development in Oyo State – for example, the remodelled Lekan Salami Stadium. The new face of the stadium has never happened before. So, it is a great success during your time.
“Through the sport of table tennis, I have been able to make my family proud and put food on the table. I am very happy and proud to be an indigene of the state.
“Over the years, we have been supporting different kids from different parts of the country, especially the cadets and junior cadets. We have been able to donate some equipment to Oyo State table tennis players through the Sports Council here and some other parts of the zonal Sports Council.
“I thought of taking this to the higher level by giving back to the society in a very big way – I mean taking table tennis to schools, streets and encouraging our youths in order to reduce the crime rate.
“I want to share a very vital message that it is possible to combine education and sports. I also want to encourage youths on the street that through sports, they can have a better future rather than roaming about.”