At last, the 17th National Sports Festival tagged “Garden City Games” is here in the city of Port Harcourt. The formal opening ceremony takes place on Sunday at Nigeria’s Mount of Liberation, the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt.
Port Harcourt city and indeed Rivers State by hosting the 17th edition of the Games has joined the league of Nigerian cities and states that have hosted the National Festival more than once after Port Harcourt hosted for the first time in the history of the games in 1988.
In 1988, the Alfred Diete Spiff Sports Centre otherwise called Civic Centre was the highest sports facility in the state.
Today, Rivers State and Port Harcourt city in particular now has an ultra modern sports complex at the Greater Port Harcourt city axis housing world class facilities such as swimming pools, hockey pitch, tennis court and a 25 thousand capacity Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium nearing completion among others.
The presence of the new sports complex does not in any way undermine the state of the art sporting facilities at the University of Port Harcourt, Choba, the Liberation Stadium and at the old hawks, Civic Centre in the heart of Port Harcourt city.
Besides, what is probably significant is the corporate philosophy and the ideals of the Garden City Games to the host state and the nation at large.
For instance, the logo of the games in Port Harcourt has key elements which include among others things the map of Rivers State with the blue colour evincing the peaceful and hospitable nature of the Government and people of Rivers State.
The Logo further shows a calm flowing river which portrays abiding love existing among the 23 Local Government Areas while the icons bearing the Festival Torch of Unity represents the athletes of the participating states symbolising the promotion of natural interaction.
On the other hands, the colours of green and white represent national colours, natural beauty and friendly environment for the games while the orange colour is an encouraging factor urging athletes to exert energy and passion to win laurels.
Similarly, the Garden City Games has a mascot named “IBIKA” which means good friend for the 17th National Sports Festival.
In this regard, a sea mammal, the Dolphin, was aptly chosen because of his friendly disposition to humans and wonderful maneuver among obstacle with great ease and style.
Rivers State was compared to Dolphin because its people are hospitable, friendly drawing their linguistic diversity and common aquatic culture and having the ability to handle its challenges.
The costume of the mascot epitomises a combination of the rich cultural heritage of Rivers State, love for Nigeria and the relevance of National Sports Festival to national integration.
It is pertinent to point out that the bowler hat, with the festival Logo crest, firmly seated on the head of the dolphin is indicative of dignity of the Rivers man while the Nigerian map cuddled with both fins bears the insignia of various sports exhibiting the love sportsman and women have for the nation, Nigeria.
Interestingly, the National Sports Festival was established in 1973 to midwife and promote friendship, unity and national integration for a nation that just came out of a bitter civil war.
The Yakubu Gowon administration envisaged that by taking the festival to each state in every two year, the much-needed love would no doubt permeate the fabric of the Nigerian state and heal the bitter wound inflicted by the civic war.
It is on record that Lagos the capital city then hosted the inaugural National Sports Festival in 1973 and hosted again in 1975 while Kaduna hosted in 1977, Ibadan in 1979, Bennin City in former Bendel State hosted in 1981, lIorin, Kwara State in 1985 and Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital hosted in 1988.
The torch of national unity of the festival moved to Bauchi as Bauchi hosted the 12th edition in 1991, Benue 1996, Imo 1998 and Bauchi again in 2000.
Benin City in the present day Edo State hosted in 2002, Abuja the Federal Capital Territory hosted in 2004, Abeokuta Ogun State in 2006 while the 16th edition also called Kada Games scheduled for 2008, however, took place in 2009 and now the 17th edition takes place in Port Harcourt city.
Since Port Harcourt city and indeed Rivers State is hosting for the second time, Rivers State is not new to hosting national sports festival and National Sports Festival is not new to Rivers State.
The messages depicted by the Logo and mascot are clear attestation to the fact that Rivers State is making a statement inviting Nigerians to enjoy the of love, friendship and peaceful co-existence in the state.
Already, the state government has planned a wonderful and remarkable formal opening ceremony consequent upon which the opening ceremony was shifted by one day from Saturday 2nd to Sunday 3rd July 2011 at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt.
As the formal opening ceremony takes place this weekend, various state contingents have started arriving the state and the city will be host to over twelve thousand athletes and officials.
This figure does not include tens of thousand of sports loving Nigerians that will throng the city as well business men and women who will take advantage of the influx of people to transact various legitimate businesses.
The Government must therefore lubricate its machinery agencies and get set to swing into action when duty calls beginning from the arrival of contingents.
These agencies include security, health and emergency and transportation interallia while religious organisations, civil society groups and other voluntary organisation must be ready to render selfless service to guests, and participating athletes and officials to make the games a success.
The State itself stands to benefit from Micro economic activities associated with the influx of guests, athletes and officials for the Garden City Games.
In this regard, taxi and bus drivers as well as those in the hospitality business must be fair and honest to guest in the discharge of their duties.
Above all, organisers should ensure that all facilities earmarked for the games are tested before actual usage.
But one thing is clear: the Garden City games in Port Harcourt is a commitment to uphold national unity and a statement of peaceful coexistence among the diversed people of Rivers State.
Welcome to the 17th National Sports Festival, Garden City Games 2011.
Sika writes in from Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation, RSBC.
Falcons Needs Overhauling – Ex-NFF Players
Following the Super Falcons embarrassing 4-2 defeat to South Africa at the recently concluded Aisha Buhari Invitational tournament, former players of the team have unanimously agreed that the team needs an overhaul.
Two penalties and an own goal by defender Michelle Alozie handed the Banyana Banyana a famous win in the final played at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Lagos on Tuesday.
Speaking with Newsmen Stella Mbachu who starred for the Falcons from 1999 to 2014 and won six Africa Women Cup of Nations titles with the team said Randy Waldrum’s team lacked fitness and were out of sort in the finals.
“That was not a good game, it was obvious the Falcons were not in their right frame of mind,” she said.
“The game was a bad one that is not the team I know. The entire team didn’t play well.
“They need to put this behind them and work harder to perform better during the Africa Women’s Qualifiers.
“They need to overhaul the team and reassemble a new team. The Falcons need to be worked on. They lacked fitness as a coach in my own opinion and that was why the South Africans out ran them.
Tidesports source reports that on Waldrum’s tactics, Mbachu said she does not know his pattern since he arrived maybe he needs more time with the team. He needs to study the players more particularly those playing in the Nigeria Women Football League.
The Nigerian Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick also agreed that the Falcons needs a rejig as the defeat to South Africa exposed the weakness of the team.
“We are all disappointed by the performance of the Super Falcons, especially on a day we claim to be celebrating the Girl Child,” he said.
“The whole essence of this competition for us as NFF has been achieved. We have a qualifier against Ghana in the next few weeks so we needed these matches to test the readiness of our players for the task ahead.
“The Banyana Banyana team has exposed the weaknesses in our team. They came to Lagos with so many young players and gave our girls some football lessons on the day.
“For me, the lesson here is that, we need to inject more players from the NWFL into the team. As you can see, the outstanding players in Nigeria’s two matches against Mali and South Africa are home based players and that is the more reason why we must invest more in the Nigeria women’s football league to expose more of these hidden talents.”
Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Federation, Austin Eguavoen, also agreed on the overhaul but added it must be gradual.
“The whole crowd was shocked with the result. They are not playing well and that is why it is tagged the Aisha Buhari International friendly and it is an opportunity for the coach and the entire Nigeria especially football stakeholders to start looking inward.
“But we cannot wipe these girls out completely, it is impossible and that’s why it has to be a gradual process,” he added.
Akwa United Boss Rues Elimination From CAF Champions League
Head Coach of Akwa United Football Club Kennedy Boboaye has admitted that his team were eliminated from the CAF Champions League by the Algerian Champions CR Belouizdad, who were more technically superior.
Tidesports source reports that the Nigerian champions crashed out at the preliminary stage of Africa’s premier competition after losing the second leg 2-0 in Algiers last Sunday and are out of the competition on a 2-1 aggregate score.
In a reaction to his team’s defeat and elimination from the competition, Coach Kennedy Boboye said “The moment we won by just one goal in Uyo on September 12th, I knew it will be difficult for us to get a favourable result in Algiers, but at the same time it wasn’t an impossible task for us.
After a careful study of the first leg, I realized that our opponents (CR Belouizdad) were technically better than us and that was why we came to Algiers with a game plan which, unfortunately, didn’t work for us.
“Two of my players Charles Okafor and Marshal Johnson had passport issues, one player Denis Nya sustained an injury during the warm-up and that altered the plans we had. We needed to move Dare Ojo to the centre back position, which he did very well but we missed his experience in the midfield and it affected our game plan.
“Having won the first leg, we knew that they (CR Belouizdad) will come out to attack us so our plan was to get at least a goal in the first half but we came up against a very good team. The way they played, one can tell that they have been playing together for a very long time. The first goal they scored was a good goal but the penalty against us wasn’t a good one, but that is football.
“We have to go back and start preparing for the new NPFL season and I think that the exposure and experience we have garnered from these two games will help the coaching crew and the players in subsequent outings both in the league and at the continental level” Boboye assured.
The Promise Keepers who won the Nigeria Professional Football League title for the first time in their history returned home on Tuesday.
FIFA Confirms Venue For S’Eagles, CAR Double-Header
FIFA has confirmed venues for the 2022 World Cup qualifying double-header between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Les Fauves of the Central African Republic.
The Super Eagles will host Raoul Savoy’s men in a matchday three encounter at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on October 10.
The reverse fixture will take place three days later at the Stade De Japoma, Douala, Cameroon.
The Super Eagles started their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win against the Lone Star of Liberia last month.
Gernot Rohr’s charges then defeated the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde 2-1 four days later in Mindelo.
The three-time African champions top Group C with six points from two games.
The top team in the group will proceed to the final play-off for the final round.
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