Infrastructural development is no doubt a necessity for the transformation of any city or state. Massive rehabilitation, reconstruction and expansion of dilapidated and run down structures is one of the high points of the Rivers State Governor, Ezenwo Nyesom Wike (CON) GSSRS.
It is a known fact that the Governor has injected well over 50 percent of the State’s capital budget into the funding of very critical infrastructural developments and other projects.
The Governor’s passion to make a change, has seen his efforts bringing to the fore hitherto forgotten and neglected sectors of the state. The impact of his infrastructural development is being felt in virtually every sector of the state.
Since assuming office on May 29, 2015, Governor Wike, a visionary leader has greatly devoted himself to the positive transformation of Rivers State, which obviously occupies a valuable position in a strategic region.
He has, without minsing words, sparked an infrastructural revolution at a time when the Nigerian economy is greatly challenged.
The vision of His Excellency will be better appreciated when we take a critical look at various sectors and specific developmental data often glossed over or outrightly down played, by the populace.
We can safely say that rhetorical recourse to impress is not feasible, rather there are focused action with tangible and remarkable results for all to see, feel, touch and access.
All infrastructural projects, have direct relevance to the economical development and well being of the people of the state. Today, we are going to take a look at infrastructural Development in Sports.
Take for example the Alfred Diette Spiff Civic Centre and the Sharks Football Stadium and the facelift it is currently undergoing, is just one of the infrastructural developmental strides. Football before now was the sole sport that occupied the front burner for a long time, Sports no doubt is a strong unifying bond creator worldwide, even enemies share arena when it comes to football, and other sports. It does not in any way remove from the importance and beauty of other forms of sporting activities.
A very key point in social development is Sports Rivers State thankfully has a very proud sporting history and notable personalities, whose names have been written in the sands of time. We have names like Adokiye Amiesimaka, Richard Owubokiri, Taribo West Joseph Yobo boxers like Dokiwari Duncan; table tennis star like, Ethel Jack, sprinters like Iyingiyikabo, just to name a few. But for long every other sports slipped into limbo even football, was quite epileptic.
Worthy of note, were sports festivals and competitions amongst primary and secondary schools, which gave rise to sports stars, who were groomed to the highest height, but it all fizzled out, probably due to two major factors, one was financial sponsorship and second was the dilapidated structures due to lack of maintenance. Such facilities like the Alfred Diette Spiff Centre and, the basketball Court in town and even the Yakubu Gowon Stadium were no longer conducive for such sporting activities.
In the last two years though, there have been notable advancement in Sports development, particularly infrastructure and human development. The Shark Stadium is wearing a brand new look, swimming pool and all the other facilities in the complex have been renovated and reconstructed to standard to enhance sports development in the State. The Alfred Diette Spiff Sports Complex is under serious overhauling, to make it fit for hosting indoor sports competitions, besides its importance to sports, the added aesthetic effect on the environment is worthy of commendation.
There is also ongoing in the complex, the construction of a forty bed hostel for sports men and women.
The General Yakubu Gowon Stadium has also been renovated and put into use, it now boasts of a functional indoor sports hall, floodlights, male and female hostels, office blocks, twin volleyball courts, tennis court, a diving pool, an automated water treatment plant to power the pools, an Olympic size swimming pool.
This administration has sponsored a lot of sporting activities to boost sports development, it has also empowered the state contingents to attend sports competition nationally. The state contingent participated in the National Youth Games in Ilorin in 2016, Para-Table Tennis classification in Lagos 2016, Chief of Naval Staff Swimming Championship in Calabar, 2016, CBN Wheelchair Championship in Lagos 2016, Nigeria Boxing Federation Open Championship Lagos 2019 and in 2017, the Judo Cadet and Junior Tournament in Port Harcourt as well as Tyroll and Thompson South-South under 18 male/female Handball in Port Harcourt. But most recently is the Governor Nyesom Wike National Wrestling Championships, which was quite a fanfare.
Also enjoying the sports largesse are the various clubs and teams in the state. The first notable achievement was the merging of the two state owned football teams. The Sharks Football Club and The Dolphins Football Club into a formidable team which was aptly renamed the Rivers United Football Club. this move is not only cost effective but also, has eased stress in the management of the teams. There is now adequate funds to manage the teams effectively.
The backlog of salaries and allowances have also been paid to the teams.
The female football team was not left behind, as they enjoy improved funding for all their engagements, they boast of producing nine players for the National Female team that won the African Women Championship of 2016 in Cameroun.
The moribund State Government owned Basketball Club, was resuscitated and are currently in the prestigious division one of the National basketball league. The backlog of entitlements were also paid in full by his Excellency.
The Rivers State Sports Council has been greatly empowered to participate in various sports events as well as organise their own sporting activities.
Besides, empowering the state teams to attend sporting events, the state Governor has also sponsored sport activities and these include the sponsorship cum partnership in the Go-Round/SWAN Senior Secondary Schools Athletic Championship in 2016. The Joseph Yobo Testimonial Cum Centenary Games in 2016, Victor Ezeji Testimonial Games in 2016. He also sponsored as well as hosted several international football matches in the state, sponsored Bukina Faso and Nigeria nations Cup qualifier match as well as the hosting of Nigeria Super Eagles qualifying match against Swaziland, and also sponsored and hosted the National under twenty three Football team continental matches in addition to camping the team.
The first Rivers/Bayelsa Wrestling Championship was also sponsored by the Rivers State Government this year. The SWAN, South-South hosting is an added feather to the already beautiful cap of the State Government.
And most recently, the bid for the hosting rights for the Senior African Wrestling Championship for 2018, was sponsored and won by the State Government.
The past two years has witnessed outstanding achievements in the Sports sector of the state, following the massive rehabilitation work. To the various sports personnel and the Sports Commission, the phrase “catch them young,” will definitely come to play. The morale of the athletes and sports administrators alike, will be highly boosted, with this, the State can eventually win laurels and boost income generation, with its world class standard facilities.
NOC Secures Support Scholarship For Four Athletes
After excelling at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where Team Nigeria topped the African medals table, the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) has changed gear towards ensuring another podium finish by securing scholarships for its athletes for Paris 2024 Olympics.
The NOC has named four latest recipients of ANOCA Athlete Support Progrmme for PARIS 2024, with the athletes all regarded as prospects for the Paris Olympic Games.
President of Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, Engr Habu Gumel who is also ANOCA Treasurer- General, announced Enekwechi Chukwuebuka (Athletics), Kolawole Esther Omolayo (Wrestling), Ogbonne Eze Joy(Weightlifting) and Olarinoye Adijat Adenike (Weightlifting) as the recipients.
Gumel said that the funds would support their goal of competing in the Olympic Games.
The four Nigerian athletes are among the 50 athletes chosen by ANOCA as the Commission predicated the allocation process on performance criteria and sports and Olympic ethics.
The ANOCA Athletes’ Support Programme aims to provide support for the preparation and qualification of elite athletes with the potential to qualify and perform well at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
The Commission recommends that NOCs use part of the grant for their athlete support and preparation activities.
Throwing more light on the ANOCA Athlete Support Programme for Paris 2024, NOC Scribe, Banji Oladapo said: “Chasing an Olympic dream takes incredible determination and talent, these four athletes have all demonstrated they have what it takes. But they also need support to train, compete and maximize their performance opportunities around the world to provide the best opportunity to represent Nigeria at the Paris Games”.
‘NFF Elections Must Hold By Sept 20’
The First Vice President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Seyi Akinwunmi, has said that the Executive Committee must uphold the authority of the NFF Congress that elections be held before the current board’s term expires.
In a three-minute video, the Lagos State Football Association boss declared his position for the staging of the polls in September.
“As you are all aware, there has been a dark cloud of uncertainties surrounding the administration of our football in the past few months.
“I wish to make it abundantly clear that I support the total adherence to the NFF Statutes, the supremacy of the congress and the commitment that NFF elections be held on or before 20 September 2022.
“As a football family, this is yet another time when we are called upon to come together and put football first.”
Akinwunmi, who is reputed for his grassroots football development efforts revealed that the process that would lead to the staging of the polls began with the Annual General Assembly expected to have held yesterday in Lagos.
“In full alignment and agreement with the above, I’m aware that the NFF Statutes is the supreme law for the administration of football in Nigeria, subject of course to any conflict with the laws of Nigeria. By virtue of the NFF Statutes, the annual general assembly as currently constituted is the supreme legislative body for the NFF.
“The General Assembly will consider a roadmap towards this year’s Elective Congress of NFF, as well as such items as may be proposed by the members or members of the Executive Committee”, had said.
Meanwhile, Senator Shehu Sani has challenged Super Eagles legends Jay-Jay Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu, Daniel Amokachi, Segun Odegbami and Tijani Babangida to emulate Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o and contest for the NFF presidency.
“The NFF election is here again. Ex-Nigerian Super Eagles should step forward and take the mantle of football administration.
“Emulate Samuel Eto’o & (Didier) Drogba. Where is Okocha, Nwankwo, Amokachi, Odegbami and Babangida?” he posed.
African U-21 Volleyball: Nigeria Brushes Off Gambia
Nigeria’s U-21 Volleyball team defeated Gambia 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-15) to record its second consecutive win at the ongoing African U-21 Men’s Nation Volleyball Championship in Tunisia.
In the first set, Nigeria won seven service points (29 per cent), 18 receivers’ points (82 per cent), one ace, had four maximum points in a row, four service errors and zero timeouts to record a 25-21 points lead.
Nigeria had a better outing in the second set with 12 service points, 13 receivers’ points, one ace, four maximum points in a row, zero service errors and no timeouts to win by 25-16 points.
In the final set, the Nigerians recorded one ace, five maximum points in a row, one service error, no timeouts, 12 service points and 13 receivers’ points to win 25-15.
Nigeria’s Abdulquadri Jaiyeola recorded 19 points in the match against The Gambia with 13 attacks, three blocks and one ace from service
Speaking after the match, Nigeria’s Head Coach, Sani Mohammed, said the team wants to finish top of the group to stand a chance of qualifying for the semifinals.
“This is a great result for the team; we want to secure all the available points in the group stage. The assistant coach, Suleiman Ajeigbe and I took our time to study The Gambians when they played against Tunisia. The Gambian side is good but we are better.
“The goal is to finish first in Group A and either meet Egypt or Cameroun in the second round. Any of the teams that come our way in the next round will be played with our last drop. The boys are ready to make Nigeria proud and get one of the available tickets to the 2023 FIVB World Championship,” Sani said.
Nigeria faced Tunisia in their last group match.
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