By: Ifeanyi Okonkwo
Returning Anambra to her glorious days in sports will be one of the tasks facing the new Chairman of the Anambra Sports Commission, Mr Patrick Estate Onyedum.
In order to achieve this and other challenges, sports journalists and analysts have outlined the loopholes needed to be plugged.
An official of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, Anambra State Chapter, Mr. Chimezie Anaso, said the new Sports Commission boss should strengthen the various sports associations and encourage them to have development programmes and competitions.
“He should use the associations as incubator for players and athletes for competitions outside the state”, Anaso further charged the Sports Commission boss.
“He should also encourage competitions among the local governments and bring back the old days of State Sports Festivals.
“The Sports Commission Chairman should also revive grassroots sports by collaborating with the ministry of education to ensure there is a rebirth of inter house sports and school sports festivals”, he added.
Vice President, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, South East Zone, Chigozie Chukwuleta on her part, said “Athletes must be seen and treated as kings.
“Without athletes, sports administrators have no jobs. So, for the new chairman to succeed, he should call the athletes, have a heart-to-heart talk with them.
“The National Sports Festival is the testing ground and he must not let some people in the sports commission with wrong mentality drag him backwards.
“He must remember that the commission is called ‘Sports Commission’, not ‘football commission’.
“He must pay adequate attention to all sports. He may decide to draw close to sports where the state has comparative advantage but must not abandon others.
“Finally, he should decentralize sports by making sports facilities across the state functional.
“Train and retrain the coaches and recruit for sports that don’t have any. He should also not concentrate on immediate glory but embark on a development programme that will start yielding results in two-three years time”.
Adding his voice, Comrade Okechukwu Onuegbu said the new Chairman of Anambra Sports Commission should work with the SWAN and other media practitioners.
“Besides, he should not forget the bloggers and online media professionals. They are all needed to move the commission forward.
“If possible, let him organize town hall/interactive sessions with the journalists at least once a month”.
Onuegbu, who is also the Assistant Secretary, NUJ, Anambra State Council added that Onyedum should search and work with sports veterans who are indigenes of Anambra State.
“He should form habit of hearing from our retired, aged and still working athletes, basketball players, boxers, etc. this should be at least once every month or in three months”,
“Those still healthy to be included in sports Administrations, training or coaching youngsters should be employed, encouraged or sponsored to do so. The sick should be feted. There should be good welfare packages to them too”,
“He should encourage inter-house sports activities, weekly games and others in all the Primary and secondary schools in the state. Through this, new talents will be rediscovered and trained and sponsored.
“Anambra State should form State males and females football teams. They should also do same for other sporting sectors like crickets, scrabble, ncho, etc.
Secretary, Anambra Independent Football League (AIFL) Dr. Ikenna Nwokedi said Onyedum’s appointment as the Chairman, Anambra State Sports Development Commission (ANSSDC) is a welcome development, describing the appointment as a square peg in a square hole.
“He is the current Chairman, Anambra State Athletics Association and in his capacity is also representing the South East Geopolitical zone at the board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN)”.
“He was an athlete during his active days and upon retirement from active sports went into sports administration which has seen him organize many athletics events in his local government (Anaocha), the state and beyond. He has also supported sporting events before this time that were not even Track and Field event”,
Nwokedi, who is the Sports Host ABS TV and UNIZIK FM Radio added; “Infact during his days as the Transition Committee Chairman, Anaocha Local Government Area, what stood him out was the sporting programme he initiated and bankrolled for his community which made them call him the ‘Capacity Chairman’ not only in Local Government administration but other sectors of human endeavour”,
“I am pretty sure he will bring his wealth of experience towards taking Anambra sports to the next level and consolidating on the strong foundation laid by the previous administration under Chief Tony Oli as the maiden Chairman of the ANSSDC.
“To demonstrate that, he has hit the ground running with a visit to the Chuba Ikpeazu and Godwin Achebe stadia which are monuments for sports in the state, he lamented the state of the infrastructure and said there is urgent need to revive the place and would surely present this to the Executive Governor of our dear State, His Excellency Prof. Chukwuma Soludo”.
Dr. Nwokedi who is also a Lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka believed that with board members of the Commission having same mindset and philosophy like Onyedum, sports being a big unifier and fosters social osmosis and integration will blossom in the state.
Mr. Damian Egwuonwu, former SWAN Chairman said that if every sports association stage at least three competitions a year it will go along way in providing the required training for athletes for peak performance.
“Anambra tertiary institution Games ANSTIGA in the past use to provide Team Anambra with athletes for national and international competitions. The services of these class of athletes are no longer available because they have been relegated to the background.
“The newly appointed chairman of Anambra state sports Development commission Mr Patrick Estate onyedum is not a stranger in the sports fraternity for he has successfully paid his dues in sports development. He is presently the chairman of the state Athletics association, representing the entire south East in the Athletics federation of Nigeria.
“Apart from the sponsorship of the south East Zonal Athletics championship, the new sports boss in the state was a renowned sprinter and the brain behind the annual Anaocha Athletics championship. Much is expected from him during the Delta State national sports festival since he has the capacity to deliver and cannot afford to disappoint the good people of the state.
“Mr Onyedum is expected to surpass the all time best record of team Anambra at Benue 96 National sports festival. There is urgent need to encourage the state athletes to sort for medals beyond combatant games since members of team Anambra have shown dominance in this area.
“There is need to exploit other sports which includes track and field, ball games, stick and racket games, throws and indoor games during the sports jamboree in Asaba. The state football association is now under a capable hand in the person of Mr chikelue iloenyosi, a former Super Eagles player who has since commenced grassroot football development program for different age groups.
“The present administration in the state is getting it right in sports. The state athletes cannot give their best without the upgrading of the existing sporting facilities as no effort should be spared in ensuring that every council area in the state is provided with basic facilities to enhance sports Development.
“The FIFA Goal project Stadium at Amansea abandoned many years ago due to politics need attention while the new Awka Township Stadium need training pitch to extend the lifespan of the facility.The chuba ikpeazu and Godwin Achebe stadia in onitsha need attention.
Editor-in-Chief of Fides Newspaper and SWAN member, Anambra Chapter Mr. Jude Atupulazi
said the first important action by the helmsman in sports is to first of all critically review the activities, achievements of the immediate past chairman and imrove on the good ones and use them as a template for the future. He should not be in a hurry to jettison everything.
“Secondly he should work harmoniously with stakeholders, including sports journalists, who, I believe, have a lot to offer him. He should also be grassroots oriented by investing in young talents, strengthening existing football academies, working with football owners and above all ensuring that day existing sports facilities are maintained while building new ones and finally he should work towards ensuring that the state returns to the elite division of the country’s football