It is critical to discuss growth in depth while addressing it. The development of a community is evident when the benefits of that development are felt by all members of that community, and in this feature, we are concerned with the development of sport and its infrastructures in Enugu. Due to the thoroughness of the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led administration, Enugu is statistically one of Nigeria’s fastest developing states.
It is so because the administration has seen reasons why this axis should receive equal attention, Enugu state has moved sports and sporting activities to the next level. The current state government, led by Gov. Ugwuanyi Ifeanyi, has recognized the benefits of having a strong sporting system in the state and is committed to its development. All types of sports are included in this equation, from football to volleyball to other organized sporting activities like secondary school state sports competitions.
This government has recognized and adopted sports as a means of involving the youths in important life events. It was a calculated strategy to keep them in check and occupied. With the invents of games Enugu keeps on producing indomitable youths that create a passion for sports. This was stated by Manfred Nzekwe, the Enugu State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, at the inauguration of the State Kickboxing Association board in Enugu, southeast Nigeria. Also, Enugu State Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi said his administration is focusing on grassroots sports development to engage and employ youths. Ugwuanyi made the remarks during the Nkanu Unity (Football) Cup finals at the UNEC Stadium in Enugu.
Governor Ugwuanyi is so committed to the solitude of the state that he is ready to pay the price for a peaceful stay in Enugu. The Nkanu Unity (Football) Cup Competition is one of the six council areas in Enugu East Senatorial Zone and it was organized by Nkanu Youth Council in partnership with Kanu Nwankwo Football Academy. Mr. Monday Ani, President of the Nkanu Young Council, stated that the competition was organized to bring the youths of Nkanu together. “We also wanted to create a platform for these young football talents to develop and become the next Kanu Nwankwo, Victor Moses, and other big names in the game,” Ani explained.
This is one of the reasons why Nigerian youth have been encouraged to see sports as a unifying force and to take advantage of the opportunities it provides, particularly during the critical era of an economic slump brought on by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
This shows the level of commitment to the youths and it also shows where their interest lies this may be one of the contributing factors why Enugu can not be caught in the web of social insecurities the youths of other states perpetuate. Gov. Ugwuanyi in his fatherly wisdom says “that exposing high-energy youngsters to sporting activities would encourage them to direct their energies into things that would benefit them, their families, and society as a whole.”
There is also a high level of concern shown to secondary school students by this government. The enthusiasm and devotion to sports in Enugu state demonstrates the state government’s concern and interest in secondary school students, who represent the community’s future generation. This group of people will become the next generation of youth in a few years, therefore it is best to get them active and engaged now so that when they reach the age of responsibility and commitment, they will behave responsibly and be committed to something. Introducing children to inter-school sports tournaments and prize-winning sports competitions is one approach to accomplish this.
There is a foundation in charge of secondary school students’ sports activities, and as part of its charitable projects recently, the foundation decided to revive sporting activities in secondary schools by organizing a football competition among all secondary schools in the Igbo-Eze North and Udenu LGAs. The sporting event began on June 17 and featured 30 schools, with Community Secondary School (CSS) Okpo, Igbo-Eze North LGA, and Community Secondary School (CSS), Obollo Afor, Udenu LGA, playing the grand finale, which was symbolically kicked-off by the Governor. CSS Okpo won the median trophy, which included medals and a monetary award, by defeating CSS Obollo 2-1.
This commitment to sports also shows the love of the Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi led administration for an all-around and total development in Enugu as a state. He sees something more when envisioning sports. Tennis has evolved into a game for all people of a variety of cultures, socioeconomic levels, and ages as it is a leisure-time activity with huge health and emotional benefits as well as income generation, according to the governor, who noted that it is one of the most popular recreational and sporting activities in modern society. So I can comfortably stress that the governor’s decision to promote sporting activities in the rural areas is a good development.
As a result, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has continued to promote rural development through the implementation of numerous infrastructure projects and the promotion of grassroots sports development to identify and nurture young talents for job creation, socialization, unification, and economic emancipation. Sports, as a social phenomenon, have evolved from their humble beginnings as an amusement and pleasure activity to become a viable and important business phenomenon that can no longer be ignored in any nation’s social, political, and economic context. Many great nations and societies throughout the world have learned that sports involvement is the key to their citizens’ healthy development and have used it to develop their young people. Sporting activities have pervaded Enugu State, as they have in many other states throughout the world, as well as all elements of societal life, including politics and religion.
Still, on the concerns for development, the governor has also invested so much into Sporting infrastructures to show his utmost support and belief in the cause. The governor, represented by his Special Adviser on Project Development and Implementation (PDI), Engr. Dr. Mrs. MaryRose Obiageli Abba, recently inaugurated a standard-double Lawn Tennis Court at the Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area Stadium, Ogrute, Enugu Ezike, in keeping with this vision and commitment to promoting recreational and sporting activities, among other numerous development projects. He sees this sports activity as the right channel for the funds of the state and so does his adviser Engr. Dr. (Mrs.) MaryRose Obiageli Abba as she describes sports as an important social phenomenon in all levels of modern society that can socialize, unify, “prevent and reduce a large number of diseases because it is the most important means of enhancing human health, physical development, and improvement,”.
In his speech during the opening of the sports facility Engr. Itodo, the Chairman of Igbo-Eze North LGA, commended Gov. Ugwuanyi for initiating the sports facility among other infrastructural projects his administration has executed in the council area.
In addition to various infrastructure projects across Enugu State’s 17 local government areas, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration has focused on grassroots sports development to identify and foster youthful talent for job creation, socialization and unification, and economic emancipation. Not to forget to mention the massive project ongoing in Nsukka presently, Gov. Ugwuanyi’s administration is constructing a magnificent and well equipped Township Stadium in Nsukka to promote and encourage sporting activities at the grassroots.
It is to be duly noted that Enugu has significantly developed all-around and sports infrastructures and activities have been given critical attention. The government of Enugu state can be said to be channeling the youths through the right path by sports development.