By Ikenna Nwokedi
Ogidi Town on Sunday, 8th October 2023 defeated Awka by a goal to nil to begin their quest for the bite of the cherry of N2million in the opening match of the Solution Football Community Shield played at the Awka City Stadium.
The competition which is bankrolled by the Anambra State Government is being organized by Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU) and Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs in collaboration with the Anambra State Football Association (ANSFA) and Anambra State Sports Development Commission (ASSDC).
The competition will feature 179 communities of the state in a contest expected to last for two months. The winner of the championship will smile home with the sum of N2million while the first and second runners up will each take home the sum of N1million and N500 thousand respectively plus consolation prizes.
In his opening remarks, The Executive Governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo said the competition is an inter community competition that will foster inter-community peace, unity and progress which will help our youths to be engaged and be busy. He said his administration has launched the sports economy through the monthly walking for life exercise and the football competition is part of the process.
Governor Soludo also said that some of the players discovered from the competition will feature in the state owned club ‘Solution FC’ who are expected to conquer other football clubs in the country. He urged all teams to exhibit spirit of sportsmanship in the course of the competition.
On his part, the National President of ASATU, Chief Titus Akpudo said the competition is part of the solution mantra of the present administration to unite the communities in the state through sports and ensure that Ndi Anambra youths are engaged all year round not just through their innate abilities but also through sports. He called for support from all the President-Generals and Traditional Rulers of all the communities to be part of the competition.
Responding also, the Honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne, eulogized Governor Soludo for his giant strides geared towards the growth of the state in all sectors of which sports is not left out. Hon. Nwabunwanne emphasized that sports is a global phenomenon used in uniting different ethnic groups and creation of bonding.
Hon. Nwabunwanne opined that the competition will aid the youths in showcasing their God’s given talent through football and the competition is also an avenue to discover exceptional talents who will be part of the new state club.
Re-echoing the view of the Commissioner, the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State Chapter, Chief Emeka Festus Udodeme stated that the competition couldn’t have come at a time when the communities need to unite, support and energize the programmes of Gov. Soludo towards transforming the fortunes of the state. He called on all the communities to use the opportunity to empower their youths through sports.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Anambra State Football Association (ANSFA), Chief Chikelue Iloenyosi ‘The General’ said that the competition is a grassroots football competition aimed at fishing out talents from the hinterlands and putting Anambra State on the map as the hub of football in the country. He thanked Governor Soludo for his support towards the game of football and growth of sports in the state.
Chief Patrick-Estate Onyedum, Chairman, Anambra State Sports Development Commission (ASSDC) commended Governor Soludo for his support towards the growth and development of sports in the state as can be seen with his approvals for sporting programmes. Onyedum also thanked the state government for ensuring that Anambra featured at the just concluded 7th edition of the National Youth Games (NYG) held in Asaba were the state contingent finished 8th on the medal’s table with a total of 22 medals comprising of 7 Gold, 6 Silver and 9 Bronze medals.
Highpoints of the occasion was the ceremonial kick-off by Governor Soludo and march past by the 21 Local Government in the state.