Sunday, June 10, 2018

Governor Udom Floats State Football League as Eket Stadium Takes Shape

In the run up to the 2015 general elections in Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel then the flag bearer for the Peoples Democratic Party in his campaigns across the thirty one Local Government Areas in the state clearly defined his agenda towards the renaissance of sports development in the state.

His vision at that time was to lay a new template that would ensure that the youths of Akwa Ibom State would find limitless opportunities through sports especially with the completion of the new Godswill Akpabio International Stadium built with the state of the art facilities and its future economic benefits.

The projections of Governor Udom Emmanuel at the start of his selfless leadership to his state on May 29, 2015 in sports development was seen at that time as a very big set target especially with the dynamics of ensuring that Akwa Ibom State would in the nearest future become the sports tourism destination not only for Nigerians but also a centre for sporting excellence.

Perhaps one of the projections of the amiable Governor is his vision to ensure that Akwa Ibom State will in the nearest future build and develop a state of the art Institute of Sports, a campaign promise he made which would further enhance the intellectual content of our sports administrators in the country and offer our sports men and women a new platform in accessing up to date schedules in their chosen fields.

Three years down the road of his sterling leadership in Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel has set the pace for sports development in Nigeria with a new frame work, a new model that has taken sports development back to the grassroots with the synergy that has been revived in sports and education.

Today, Governor Udom Emmanuel has done it again, with the planned State Football League, first of its kind that seeks to galvanize youths in all the Local Government Areas of the State through a football league competition whose execution will, apart from engendering unity and the engagement of our restive youth is set to provide a means of livelihood and occupation.
The vow of providing Sports infrastructure in the federal constituencies in the State has been re-inforced by the brand new 16,000 seater Eket Sports Stadium. 

Billed to be commissioned in September, the Eket stadium is a promise kept as regards the provision of Sports centres in the Federal Constituencies of the State and a boost to the proposed State league.

The Sports Centre at West Itam which has been completed was the historic approach that started the reality of the new dawn of greatness that finally beckoned upon the horizon of the state. With the state of the art facilities which include a standard football field, a tartan track, volley ball court, basket ball court and other facilities, Governor Udom Emmanuel has become a model for other states to emulate in their projections for the provision of infrastructure and re-definition of discovering new talents for the future of Nigeria.

The concept of the ten Sports Centers spread across the ten Federal Constituencies has been widely applauded by sports administrators in the country as designed to walk the road to becoming champions and one interesting feature about these laudable projects is that it has been widely accepted by the youths who have daily engaged themselves in the usage of these facilities.

At a time Nigerian athletes have failed to excite and shine at international meets especially the last Olympic Games held in Rio, Brazil where Team Nigeria flopped, Governor Udom Emmanuel clearly told Nigerians that there was need to go back to the development of grassroots sports and charged the State Ministry of Youth and Sports to chart a new course that will ensure that the state will in the nearest future become a new hub for the discovery of national and international athletes and champions.

Today, the process to chart a successful discovery of new generation of athletes for Nigeria who once ruled the world of athletics and other sports in the likes of Chidi Imoh, Olapade Adenekan, the Ezinwa brothers, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, Enefiok Udobong, Innocent Egbunike, Samuel Peter, Hogan Kid Bassey, Lawrence Iquaibom, Vivian Chukwu Emeka, Henry Amike, Yusuf Ali, Falilat Ogunkoya just to mention a few of our past heroes has started in Akwa Ibom State.

The first and second Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival, the very first of its kind designed and hosted by any state is perhaps the greatest feat that has given the federal government a template that there are limitless talents and opportunities at the grassroots to change the fortune of sports development in Nigeria.
The Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festivals have given over 6,000 Primary and Secondary School Students from across the thirty one local government areas of the state, the opportunity and platform to discover very exciting talents as the race for honours and glory swept through the participating schools and local government areas in what sports administrators including the Minister for Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung who was in Uyo to watch proceedings openly concedes that the state had set the pace for the long term development of sports in Nigeria.

It is worthy of note that immediately after the first Youth Sports Festival, in 2017 Akwa Ibom State went to Ilorin with the youths so discovered and placed second in the National Youth Games.

Sports Commissioner Sir Monday Ebong Uko last week lauded the Governor for what he called "Dividends of the Youth Sports Festival" when 10 athletes from Akwa Ibom were invited by the National Ministry of Youth and Sports for camping towards the 3rd African Youth Games.
The ten young athletes are spread across cycling, Taekwondo, Weightlifting, track and field, boxing and Judo.

"It will interest the Nigerian Sports Community to note that during the 1st and 2nd editions of the African Youth Games held in Rabat Morocco and Gaborone in Botswana in 2010 and 2014 respectively, no athlete from Akwa Ibom State was invited.

"The current trend is therefore a clear indication that the annual Akwa Ibom State Youth Sports Festival is beginning to yield positive results and we thank His Excellency for it" the commissioner said.

That Akwa United Football Club  in just three years of the enormous support given to the team obviously the biggest sporting export from the state today are title contenders to the Nigeria Professional Football League in the present season with a whole new structure and exciting performance.  This, no doubt is strongly another focal success story of Governor Udom Emmanuel.

Barely into his first year as the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Akwa United Football Club won the 2015 Federation Cup beating Lobi Stars of Markurdi at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in front of a capacity crowd which included teeming supporters and the number one patron of the club, Governor Udom Emmanuel who made history that glorious Sunday evening by being the first Governor of the State to lift a major national trophy.

That drive for success has made Akwa United today, truly a professional side.  By 2017, Governor Udom was back in Lagos, this time the Agege Stadium to lift the FA Cup again (Renamed Aiteo Cup) at the expense of Niger Tornadoes of Minna.

Our biggest sporting brand, the Super Eagles of Nigeria found a home in Uyo as a fortress in all the home qualifying fixtures for the 2018 World Cup where Nigeria became the first African Country to qualify with a game to spare. 

The Nest of Champions in Uyo and sustained support of Governor Udom Emmanuel all through the qualifiers at home enhanced sports tourism in Akwa Ibom State in the last three years as well as gave the senior national team the comfort zone of a well placed hospitable and conducive environment with the state of art facilities at the stadium with great exploits.

As a firm believer in the re-birth philosophy of self discovery of the Akwa Ibom People through the Dakkada philosophy, Governor Udom Emmanuel today has charted a new swan song that has given the youths of the state a strong belief that with their natural talents, they can break barriers to become great personalities through sports. 

In just three years as Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Governor Udom Emmanuel has become a pace setter whose modest contributions have been widely acknowledged.  No wonder he was unanimously voted by Nigerians through the Nigeria Sports Awards as the best Governor for the year 2017.

As we celebrate the legacies so far laid by this great leader and emerging torch bearer in sports development in Nigeria, history will beckon on his leadership for setting the pace of the new dawn and renaissance in Nigerian sports and for bringing Akwa Ibom State into the international community with his laudable achievements in the sports sector. 

Let the Akwa Ibom State Football League, begin.

By:  sunnewsonline




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