The National Sports Festival is meant to be the country's version of the Olympic Games and while the just concluded 19th edition had a couple of high points, poor attendance at the venues was a big letdown.

Speaking with Bounce Sports on this knotty issue in Abuja, Nigeria's queen of the tracks, Blessing Okagbare said she actually expected more fans at the stadium but that nonetheless, she rated the 2018 NSF great.

She said: Overall, it was amazing, but the crowd is not really what I expected to see. The energy was low and with sports like this, fans actually make a lot of difference, they come around to cheer you up and it is a different atmosphere with the fans around. We are just here, coaches and athletes, watching ourselves, which is not supposed to be for a major competition like this. However, the athletes gave their best.

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On what she feels was responsible for this apathy, Okagbare said: I think location matters. I have seen a lot of events staged at the Abuja Stadium and maybe the people from Abuja don’t really like sports.

"I think subsequently, they should put that into consideration. It is a nice stadium (Abuja Stadium), a great place, a great city, but when it comes to sports, you have to put a lot of things into consideration.

"If it is football, probably they would have come out, but I am focusing on track and field now which is my sport. Also for awareness, I don’t know how much of that was done because everywhere was so empty, no sponsor logo, nothing to show that something great was happening" Okagbare submitted.

Already, Edo State have been named as the next host of the National Sports Festival and the prayers is that the fans will turn out better over there.


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