Senator David Mark at the weekend listed sports development as one of the core areas where he has positively impacted on the development of youths in his community.
The former Senate President made the declaration during the flagging off of the 6th edition of Mark D’ Ball Basketball Tournament in Otukpo, Benue State.
Mark is gearing to recontest the Benue South Senatorial seat with Daniel Onjeh of APC, after the Appeal Court annulled his election and called for a fresh election.
While addressing the crowd at the Otukpo Sports Centre, he said that youths in the Benue South Senatorial constituency have gainfully benefited from his foundation in sports including golf, football and basketball.
According to him, about 300 youths are registered at the Golf Academy at the 18-hole golf course which he built for the benefit of his community.
Five of the youths from the academy represented Nigeria at an international golf tournament in Scotland this year and benefitted from interaction with youths from other countries.
He similarly said the emphasis on sports yielded fortunes with the emergence of Mark Mentors of Otukpo as the winners of the 2015 Nigeria Basket Ball Premier League Championship.
The Mark Mentors, led by Stanley Gumut, won the prize money of N2 million after they edged Kano Pillar to the title.
“Sports unite us in Otukpo and it is a platform to engage our indigent youths and harness their natural talent. I am not sponsoring sports for political gains but to encourage young boys and girls. Even if I don’t return to the Senate, my foundation will continue to provide philanthropy while Mark D’ Ball Tournament will continue to exist, whether I am dead or alive. We can use sports to translate Otukpo as a centre of excellence,” Mark stressed.
The opening ceremony of Mark D’ Ball Tournament was an elaborate activity of entertainment, comedy and cultural display.
Mike Owi performed the theme song, while music legend, Bongos Ikwue played a special number for 2016. Other notable artistes such as Danfo Driver, Baba Fryo and new rave, Tekno, wowed the crowd.
Over 300 youths are participating in the basketball clinic where they are introduced to the fundamentals of the game and life skills.