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2018 And Sports Development In Rivers. Steve Okeke

The year 2018 can aptly be described as an eventful season for sporting activities in Rivers State.

The sports community and other residents of the State will agree that it was a year of unforgettable experience with the series of sports events hosted by the state, courtesy of the magnanimous support from the Power of Sports in Africa (POS) and Governor of River state, Chief, Nyesom Wike.

Rivers state hosted the National Wrestling Championship, as a prelude to the African Wrestling Championship scheduled to be held in the state later in year. There was the National Karate Competition which attracted stakeholders and professionals in the martial arts game to the state.

The Governor Wike sponsored football competition in which some prominent club sides participated including our own dear Rivers United was again one of the highlights of the out gone year while of course the Henry Kalio football competition organized by the State Chapter of Sports Written Association of Nigeria (SWAN), in memory of the late Henry Kalio, a veteran in the pen profession in the state also took the stage in 2010.

The National Badminton Championship organized by the National Badminton Association of Nigeria took place towards the end of the year, at the Alfred Diette-Spiff Civic Centre in Port Harcourt. The championship, according to the organizers was as a test run for the International Badminton Championship also billed for the state in the under review.

Aside these tournaments hosted in the state, the Rivers contingent to the national sports festival held at the Federal Capital, Abuja emerged the 2nd best performing team in the federation behind Delta state. Team Rivers will soon be hosted to a formal reception by the Rivers state government.

In addition to these developments, the various local governments areas and communities in the state also organized series of local sports meets and competitions in their contributions to the development of sports in the rural localities. For instance, the Port Harcourt City Local Government Council organized the Hon. Victor Ihunwo Unity football competition among football groups in the local government. Similar sports activities were also staged by other councils while some communities used the round off of the yearly festivities to hold sports activities as a unifying force for community harmony and development.

Evidently, 2018 remains a healthy year for athletes and stakeholders in the state in view of the large number of new talents nurtured from the various competitions and helped to strengthen the competitive prowess of existing ones.

In the area of sports infrastructure, the multi-purpose Alfred Diette-Spiff Civic Centre received laudable attention following the renovation and modernization of the sports edifice by the state government.

The Real Madrid football Academy, an initiative of the State Government with the Spanish Club to develop football talents also came on stream with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by both parties in Madrid Spain. The academy has commenced at its temporary location at the Yakubu Gowon Stadium, Elekahia.

However, in spite of this plethora of achievements, there are still numerous challenges bedeviling sports developments in the state.

Rivers United, was not very viable in the soccer arena in the out gone year. The club had always been among the best in the previous years.

The performance of Team Rivers at the recently concluded national sports competition in Abuja, in the overall medals table, not with …….there is need for more preparations and trainings for the state sports athletes.

The state Ministry of sports and the sports council needs to rise to draw up fresh programmes for better competitions to challenge the state athletes to bring in laurels for the state in the year.

The performance of the state owned Rivers United in the in the national premier football league in 2018 was to say the least abysmal. There is need for urgent infusion of a new coaching crew as the present managers of the club seem quiet exhausted and require renewed initiatives.

…welfare packages are also required for the Rivers Angels, the state female team who on the overall rating has been a source of pride to the government and people of rivers state over the years.

Another major challenge facing sports in the state is the lack of maintenance culture on the sporting facilities in the state.

Apart from the Sharks Stadium that can still accommodate few matches, the Elekahia and Adokie Amasiemeka stadium in Igwurita has remained in near dilapidated state due to poor repairs and renovations. It has become an adopted system to always wait until a national or international event is proposed on the two stadia before staging the usual fire brigade routine maintenance of the structures. Sports it need be noted is not just an investment but much more a greater legacy for humanity.

 it is also important, that the media be greatly involved in policy articulations and implementations of programmes for sports developments in the state in view of the fact that sports writers are the conscience of sports and will continue to play such prominent and critical roles in sports developments in the state.

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