Barely 100 days in of
fice as governor of Rivers State, Chief Nyesom Wike, has made giant strides in sports sector which clearly set his administration out as one truly committed to the development and promotion of the sector.
Indeed the administration is relaunching the state to the frontline of comity of leading sports friendly states and destination of choice for sporting events and competitions.
Even before he was sworn in as the Executive Governor, Chief Wike demonstrated his interest in sports by making football one of the activities that marked his pre-inauguration ceremonies.
That day, Chief Wike led a number of football stars, both ex-and current internationals to entertain the people with a display of exhilarating football at the Sharks FC Stadium in Port Harcourt. That was an indication and a promise that sports would not take back seat in the nascent administration.
In fact, during his early speeches, the Governor underlined grassroots sports development, especially, going back to schools sports, reviving and promoting competitions at the grassroots level as a key policy towards engaging and empowering the youths.
About 100 days on, Rivers State, particularly Port Harcourt has become central and focus of sports discuss, especially football in Nigeria.
In demonstration of his conviction that athletes deserve motivation and remuneration, players of Rivers State clubs, Sharks, Dolphins and Rivers Angels FCs, who were hitherto owed eight months backlog of salaries were the first to smile as the governor effected their payment.
At a time the Nigeria football Federation, NFF was in a quandary concerning a venue to host the Nigeria’s under 23 football teams qualifying match for the pre-Rio 2016 Olympic Games and states under the yoke of financial crisis were avoiding such burden, Governor Wike stepped into rescue the federation.
He, not only presented the state as a host, his motivation played pivotal roles in ensuring victory and paving way for the team’s qualification for the African Olympic qualifying tournament.
Since then, Port Harcourt has become a home for National teams as Super Eagles’ matchless and other national teams have been billed for the imposing Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium, at least Super Eagles next three matches beginning with their international friendly with Niger Republic tomorrow will be played at the stadium.
Only yesterday, the state, for the first time in history hosted a competitive grade A international match between two countries when Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast clashed in a 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifier in Port Harcourt. The state had offered to assist the NFF bail out Sierra Leone who could not host international matches at homes.
These plethora of international matches have gone a long way to re-establish and proof that peace and safety have returned to Rivers State which have further boosted tourism and investment opportunities in the state.
Governor Wike in further demonstration of his wholesome positive disposition towards the sports sector has extended hand of fellowship to the sports writing family in Nigeria who he assured of partnering for effective sports development in the state and Nigeria.
Rivers State a couple of weeks ago hosted the National Full Council Meeting, the highest decision making body of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, which has been adjudged to be the best of its kind in the association history.
Assessing the performance of the Governor in a little over three months now, chairman of Rivers State chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, Mr Honour Sirawoo scored him a nine on scale of 10. According to him, “The Governor has done well for the sports sector. He started well by offsetting the debt owed the state clubs for over eight months. His willingness to host international matches at a time other states are running away is an indication that sports is dear to him. We hope he continues to remain in the path of sports development and give the state the fillip to rediscover their elements and once again play leading role in sporting events and competitions in Nigeria.
For the Director of sports in Rivers State, Sir Daobu Harry, the Sports Council is hopeful that things can only get better as they pray that the Governor does not deviate from the commitment to sports which he has shown so early in his administration.
According to the Director, “The Governor has done well. It takes a big heart and courage to do what he has done so far in prevailing circumstances. The sports sector has gotten new lease of life since his coming into office. Apart from relaunching the state to international spotlight, sports association in the state have begun to attend national competitions, we hope that it continues to get better.”
Reps Summon Dare Over Doping Crisis At Tokyo
The House of Representatives has begun investigation of the disqualification of Nigerian athletes at the 2020 Olympics over alleged doping, asking the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, to come and explain the preparedness of the Nigerian contingent for the sports festival.
Tidesports source gathered that the resolutions followed the unanimous adoption of a motion at the plenary on Wednesday titled, ‘Need to Investigate Activities of the Federal Ministry of Sports and Youth Development on Failed Doping Test by Nigeria Athletes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.’
Consequently, the House resolved to “invite the Minister of Sports and Youth Development (sic) to brief the Committee on Sports on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the independent anti-doping arm, Athletics Integrity Unit.”
The House also urged the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to put necessary measures in place to ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions, while mandating the Committee on Sports to “investigate the immediate and remote cause of the failed doping test to forestall future occurrence.”
Moving the motion, Mr Babatunde Ayeni said the Nigerian delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating in the comity of nations.
Ayeni recalled the outstanding performance of the Nigerian Football Team which bagged the historic first soccer gold medal at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, United States of America.
The lawmaker lamented the incident of July 20, 2021, where the Athletics Integrity Unit of the International Association of Athletics Federations barred 10 Nigerian athletes, including the highly-rated Blessing Okagbare, from the Tokyo Olympics for failing to meet requirements for out-of-competition drug testing.
He recalled that the Athletics Integrity Unit alleged that Okagbare, who won the opening heat of the Women’s 100 meters, had tested positive for human growth hormone.
“The House is also aware that the allegation further affirmed that the affected athletes failed to comply with the rules requiring those from countries deemed to be at high risk of doping to undergo three no-notice out-of-competition tests in a 10 months’ period leading up to a major event.
“The House is concerned that despite the huge funds being made available yearly for the regulatory agencies in the sports sector, adequate efforts have not been made to get Nigeria into the category where they would be deemed to have made significant improvements in anti-doping tests,” Ayeni added.
NYG: Rivers B’Ball Team Intensifies Preparations
Coach of the Rivers State Male Basket-ball Team, Dagogo Okumgba, has said that preparation, are in top gear for the forthcoming 2021 edition of the National Youth Games (NYG)scheduled to hold in Ilorin, Kwara State.
Coach Okumgba disclosed this yesterday during an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the team is doing everything necessary to get a better outing in Ilorin when the chips are down, saying that the players are in high spirits and are poised to compete favourably when the competition gets underway.
The coach said his players are committed to their preparations for the task ahead and determined to do the state proud at the games come November this year.
“We are doing our part to prepare as a team and wait for a go ahead from the Sports Ministry for camping so as to further prepare and fortify on the earlier made preparation,” Okumgba added.
The team qualified from their zone at the recently concluded zonal elimi-nation for team sports ahead of “National Youth Games” coming up next month.
It would be recalled that the zonal elimination for team events which comprised Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Edo states took place in Asaba, Delta State, fortnight ago.
The date for the competition was earlier fixed for September 7 to 17 this year.
10 Athletes To Represent Nigeria At Winter Olympics
Following the successful completion of its inaugural Olympics Trials in Lagos last Saturday, the Bobsled and Skeleton Federation of Nigeria has stated that 10 athletes would represent Nigeria at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games.
Technical Director, BSFN, Dr. Seun Adigun disclosed this in Lagos.
“Ten athletes will be named for the Winter Olympics.
“We will have two athletes for Bobsled, two in the Monobob women’s team, two athletes for the Bobsled men’s team, two male Skeleton and two female Skeleton athletes for the national team,” Adigun, who played a key role in Nigeria’s debut at the last Winter Olympics Games in Pyeongchang, Sourh Korea, said.
President, BSFN, Solomon Ogba stated that the team would train on ice in Europe, ahead of the Winter Games.
“This is the first stage of the preparation for the Olympics before the athletes train on ice,” Ogba said.
History was made earlier in the year when six athletes, who were selected from the first-ever trials in Lagos, trained and participated on ice for the first time in Pyeongchang.
Tidesports source reports that after a few days of training on ice, Perpetua Nwanna and Alawode Sekinat won bronze medal in their debut competition, after finishing third in the women’s double Bobsleigh IBSFSliding Korea Cup.
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