Chairman of the Imo State Sports Commission, Fan Ndubuoke has charged athletes, fans and stakeholders in the sporting sector to key into the Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s ‘Rebuild Imo’ project, saying it would help hasten his plans of reviving sports in the state, as well as push for more sporting excellence in Nigeria.
Speaking at his inaugural meeting with the former management and staff of the defunct Sports Council and Sports Ministry at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Ndubuoke said it was ‘a new dawn for sports in the state,’ and called on all stakeholders to join the push to return Imo to her rightful place in Nigerian sports.
“We all know where sports has been in Imo in the last eight years. Certainly, it is not a place we all are proud of.
“Sports in Imo have been in the doldrums. Indeed, it was relegated to the background. This sorry state of sports and the sad narrative that it attracts have to change,” he noted.
Ndubuoke recalled how Grasshoppers Handball Club of Owerri, which once ruled Africa in the women category, went into oblivion just as Heartland Football Club was saved from going on relegation by the 11th hour intervention of Governor Ihedioha.
He decried the state of sports facilities in Imo before Ihedioha’s administration came on board, noting that it scared away investors, sponsors and even athletes and coaches who moved out in droves and preferred to represent other states.
“It is very sad and unfortunate to observe that the best athletes and coaches representing other top sporting states are from Imo. This is so given the treatment meted out to them and of course the fact that there are no facilities to train with here.
“But thankfully, Imo now has a sports loving governor who has not only awarded contracts for the renovation and rehabilitation of the Dan Anyiam Stadium and the Grasshoppers Handball Stadium but has taken a bold step towards ensuring that each of the 27 Local Government Areas have a befitting sports complex.
“In addition, Governor Ihedioha is already making moves through the Sports Commission to bring back all Imo athletes and coaches representing other states.
“In the light of this, we as a Sports Commission have set our target on a three-point agenda. First, to return to the grassroots and academicals where we hope to discover, nurture and manage athletes to achieve greater feats for themselves, Imo State and the country in general.
“Secondly, to embark on aggressive marketing and sponsorship drive which will support and boost our plan of establishing tournaments and competitions from the U-15 categories across major sports which the state has comparative advantages and thirdly, to train and retrain coaches for optimum performance which will attract rewards, recognition and awards on individual basis.”