A total of 434 athletes will compete in 29 events for Team Rivers at the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF) which holds from April 2 to April 15 in Benin.
Boma Iyaye, the state’s Commissioner for Sports, disclosed this during an interactive session with sports journalists at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Igwurita-Ali, near Port Harcourt.
He said 144 officials would be part of the team, with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Sports, Honour Sirawoo, as the head of the contingent.
The commissioner said the Rivers contingent, which had been in camp since March 23, would round up its camping programme for the games on Thursday.
“Rivers has been participating in the National Sports Festivals since its inception in 1973, and 1988 and 2011 editions were hosted by Rivers.
“The state’s performance in the past editions portrays that Team Rivers will contend favourably in this year’s edition. We have all our athletes camped.
“ Rivers will participate in 29 games at Edo 2020,” he said.
The commissioner added that they would not participate in all the events, because they wanted to be involved in their areas of strength.
“We will be there in our area of comparative advantage in the festival, which we believe we will win medals from.
“We are participating where we should be able to come out first in the overall medals table of the festival.”
Iyaye also stated that they had put in place medical facilities for their athletes.
“We will not rely on the festival’s ambulance for example. We are travelling with our own ambulance to take care of our athletes in case of any emergency.”
The commissioner further stated that for the comfort and safety of the state’s athlete they would travel to Edo in hired luxury buses.
“We have also provided caterers to cook delicious meals that are suitable for each athlete’s diet for their welfare, to make sure when they are at Benin they will win available medals and make Rivers proud.’’
He also said: “Our benchmark for our athletes is to come out tops in every game we participate in. We will go for the best and the best is to come out tops.
“Team spirit has been very high since the arrival of the athletes here (Igwurita-Ali) and the atmosphere is very conducive.
“They have the best of facilities in terms of training and preparations for the games proper. The Sports Council and the Ministry of Sports have been making sure that they provide everything for the athletes.’’(NAN)