– Akwa Ibom state Governor Udom Emmanuel has a great plan for sports in the state
– He said the development of school sports is the best way of discovering stars that will represent the state and the country
– The Governor revealed that Akwa Ibom will produce world champions in the next 7 years
Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State has reiterated the commitment of his administration to develop sports in the state.
The Governor made the assertion in a statement made available to NAIJ.com on the importance of sports development.
Emmanuel said sports remains a lucrative platform to engage the massive youthful population. He noted that his administration is focused on the development of sports at the grass roots especially at the Federal Constituency level with a strong focus on short and long term plans that will sustain the gains.
Governor Emmanuel emphasised that the development of school sports is the surest foundation to discovering and making stars that will represent the state and nation at national and international levels.
He called on Sports managers to have a rethink over the poor outing of the country’s Athletes in the just concluded Rio Olympics Games and restrategise for the next tournament slated for Tokyo in 2020 and other International competitions.
The Governor described as shocking the inability of the country to fill Athletes in all the competitions and win gold or silver medals in the olympic games pointing out that the only medal brought home was a bronze in a football competition by the Dream Team whereas other smaller countries bagged several gold and silver medals and wandered why Nigeria with over 160 million population could only boast of a bronze medal.
”But what surprises me is how countries like Jamaica was able to win medals and filled Athletes in almost all the sports event but Nigerian contingent which arrived late for the games could only clinched a bronze medal through football in the competition ” Governor Emmanuel stated.
He called on Sports developers to go back to the drawing board to enable the country excel in future Sports tournament.
Emmanuel however hinted that given the huge investment in the development of Sports Academy in the ten Federal Constituencies of the State where the younger generation are trained in various field of Sports, Akwa Ibom within the next seven years will boast of talents who would rake in medals for the state and country in future competitions.
“We wont wait for any body as we want to make sure that this state produce future champions and I only want people to give us 7 years for us to be ready to take on any competition,” he said.
Governor Udom Emmanuel is building ten sports centres in the ten federal constituencies in the state. The first sports centre at West Itam Secondary School, Itu LGA was commissioned in May to mark his firat year in office. The second sports centre at Ikot Mbong, Onna LGA is at advanced stage and will soon be commissioned.
Eight more state of the arts sports centres are at various levels of planning and execution.
Gift Onukam, a female basketball coach has praised the Governor’s effort in encouraging youngsters to take to sports.
“My basketball foundation has benefited from one of the sports centres built in the state by Governor Udom Emmanuel. This holiday, I organised a summer basketball camp and classes at the centre in Itam. It was an opportunity for young people between the ages of five to twenty years to take advantage and learn basketball skills.
“There are lots of benefits to derive from playing basketball. It makes the players very healthy. They can burn calories, build muscles, gain endurance and improve their coordination skills.
“The game is a big money earner and there are several avenues to gain scholarship from playing basketball. We will continue to use the facilities here more for several other programmes,” she added
Nsisong Edem, an SS2 student of West Itam Secondary School, Itu LGA said the sports centre within their school complex had made his school mates develop more love for sports.
He also revealed his dreams to make a career out of playing football.
“We look forward to break times and after school periods to play games. I love football and I want to be popular like Vincent Enyeama.
I like Mfon Udoh because my coach says he started playing like us today. Since I cant really play other sports, I watch others play basketball, volleyball, handball in the school. It is good. Yes, I also run with my friends on the track”.
Last year, Governor Udom Emmanuel inspired the state owned team, Akwa United to a historic Federation Cup win 20 years after the club was established beating Lobi Stars 2-1 in the final.
In November 2015, he released the sum of N100m to the team to enable it settle all outstanding financial commitments.
At a reception for the team hosted by the state, Governor Udom Emmanuel announced a cash reward of N2 million for each of the players, while the coach got N3 million. The reward package also includes an apartment for each of the footballers and their handlers.