NSF:‘Why I Saved Ebonyi From N10m Fine’

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An Ex-Cricket International, Chika Okoro,who saved Ebonyi State from paying the 2018 National Sports Festival (NSF) non-participation fine of N10 million, has revealed the reasons for his actions.
Tidesports source recalls that the Ebonyi State Government had declared that it would not send a contingent to the festival held in Abuja, an offence which attracts N10million as non-participation fine.
Okoro, the South East representative in the Nigerian Cricket Federation (NCF) board, however, sponsored the state’s cricket team to the festival thereby de-listing the state from non-participants at the festival.
The sports administrator noted that he took the decision to save the state from paying the fine and provided the athletes the opportunity to showcase their talents.
“The cricket players had been in camp for more than five weeks prior to the festival’s commencement and I had to sponsor their stay in camp.
“When the government declared that the state will not participate in the festival, I felt uncomfortable that they would not have the opportunity to showcase their talents.
“I also felt that paying such huge fine would be undesirable to the state, so I sponsored the team’s entire stay in Abuja, for the festival.
“The action has already yielded fruit as four of the players are currently in the National U-19 Camp, preparing for a continental outing in Gambia,” he said.
He, however, said his action was not to seek for the government’s recognition, but that he was motivated by his love for the sport and desire for its development in the state and the entire south east zone.
“Nobody from the government has called to appreciate my actions, but that is no problem because I am not seeking recognition.
“I decided to champion the growth of cricket in the zone by promoting it in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
“It is only when people appreciate and understand the game early that they can play it better and ensure its growth,” he said.
Okoro further explained that his love for sports dated back to 1979 during his days at the Government College Afikpo, where he rose to become the school’s captain.
“I represented the school and the old Imo in cricket and rose to represent Nigeria in several international events.
“I benefited from playing cricket and have to give back to the sport.
“I have donated kits such as balls, bats, concrete floor, nets, polls, lighting-equipment, and others, and this cannot be counted as a waste of resources.
“Cricket is an elitist sports because it is played by those who attend schools, and it is also expensive.
“We are striving to make it as popular as football because cricket players in Pakistan, India, England and other countries compete favourably with professional footballers,” Okoro said.