NIGERIA: How we resuscitated sports in Anambra — Commissioner

Going by the spate of sports development currently going on in Anambra state, the commissioner of Youth and Sports, Dr. Edozie Aroh, has revealed that his ministry made a lot of sacrifices to reach the level that Anambra sports is presently. Excerpts:
For the past two years, Anambra state has recorded remarkable improvement in the sports, what can you say is responsible for it?
Sports as we know are physical activities that serve many purposes. They are health therapies  and also sources of livelihood. Actually when I came into this ministry two years ago, what I met on ground was nothing to write home about. Sporting activities across the board was completely  moribund, athletes and coaches where abandoned to their fate.
The government was pumping funds into the ministry but yet no sporting activities were going on. The ministry held meetings upon meetings to see what can be done to remedy the situation. In doing this we stepped on so many toes, but we were determined to do some thing positive to change the situation. Thank God we have a governor who has a listening ear. So we came out with a blue print on how to develop sports and take it the door steps of our people especially the athletes.
Another thing is putting the right peg in the right hole. Being somebody who was in sports before, I knew what it takes to make athletes happy and excel in their various fields, so we went down to business. It was an up hill task but we were ready to pay the prize to ensure that things work well for sports men and women in the state. Today every body is talking about sports in Anambra state and parents now buy kits for their wards just for them to do sports. If you go back into records, you will discover that Anambra state, within this short period, has done very well in most of the national competitions.
How many athletes have really benefited from Governor Obi’s sports transformation agenda?
A large number of Anambra state athletes have one good story or the other to tell about what he or she has benefited from this government in terms of sports. Let me just name few. We have resuscitated   schools sports in the state and it has become a yearly event for all schools with rewards for winners in all categories.
We also do state sports festivals. In the last governor’s football  tournament, the team that won the cup went home with N1.5 million, second placed got NI million while the third and fourth teams went home with N500,000 and N250,000 respectively
Anambra YSFON Starlets who are the current national U-16 champions were sponsored by the state to represent Nigeria in Norway.
Almost all the stadia in Anambra state have been given a facelift. Rojenny alone gulped N30million. We have  honoured 30 sports veterans amongst  them are Mary Onyali Omagbemi and Mr. Emma Okala etc.
In the 5th National Schools Festival held in Port Harcourt,  Anambra won 39 Gold, 48 Silver and 82 Bronze.
Njika Iyiazu a gold medallist at the Paralympics event was also highly rewarded. The first  female gold medallist at the 1973 National Sports Festival Mrs  Loveth  Onyeabo was remembered and honoured with cash award. This ministry within two years under my leadership and with the support of our governor has achieved and brought in new innovations to the system.
If you are given the opportunity to serve this state again under this capacity, will you take it.?
Yes why not. I will like to continue from where I stopped because I know the system. I have put some things in place, I want to take sports to the zenith in this state. I want to finish the projects I have stated, so that by the time I leave the scene, the athletes and coaches don’t need any body to do what is right.
Anambra sports men and women have discovered that sports is real business and they are ready to key into it to earn a living.  I would like to advise our athletes to remain totally committed to rewriting the name of Anambra state in sports, especially as we prepare for other national sporting events for the this year particularly the National Sports Festival coming up in Calabar.

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