Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State has been commended by notable stakeholders in the sports sector for his giant strides and initiatives towards sports development in the state.
This is even as Imo born sportsmen and women plying their skills in other states have been called upon to return home as the government is braced to return Imo State to its premier position in the field of sports.
Ihedioha made this call when he declared open the Imo State Sports Summit as well as inaugurated the 21st National Sports Festival Bid Committee at the Concorde Hotel, Owerri.
Ihedioha lamented that talented sportsmen and women of the State had left to other states because of frustration, rot in facilities and poor administration engendered by bad governance in the last eight years. He disclosed that the government has put a plan in place to lure them back with attractive incentives.
The Governor, who also inaugurated the Imo State 2022 National Sports Festival’s 33-member Bid Committee, announced that the government has commenced massive rehabilitation works at both the Dan Anyiam and Imo Grasshoppers International Handball stadia.
The State is also partnering with the 27 Local Governments in the State, either to construct a mini-stadium each or to upgrade existing ones. It is also procuring an Olympic-size swimming pool in Oguta lake resort as part of a comprehensive plan to rebuild and upgrade the resort for leisure, tourism and water sports.
Ihedioha announced that the Indomitable Imo State Grasshoppers women handball team has revved into life and would be representing the country in an international tournament in Algeria coming April.
The Governor also paid tributes to iconic Imo sportsmen and women like Dick Tiger – the first black African to win the World Middleweight and Light Heavyweight championships in the sixties: Chioma Ajunwa – the first Nigerian Olympic gold medallist, Charity Opara, Nwankwo Kanu, Emmanuel Amuneke and others.
The Bid Committee, which is chaired by a veteran sports administrator, Dan Ngerem, include other personalities like Ibrahim Galadima, Chief Adiokiye Amiesemeka, Hon. Bukola Olapade, Mike Itemuaghor and Hon. Tunji Adeyinka. The membership also has such great sports personalities as Kanu Nwankwo and Chioma Ajunwa as members.
The purpose of this Summit, the Governor stated, is therefore, to take stock of state’s accomplishments, rebuild the damages of the past eight years and set a new agenda for the restoration of the lost fortunes of sports in Imo State,
Delivering a keynote address at the occasion, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Sunday Dare, who was guest to Imo State Government at the occasion, lamented the level of rot he saw in Imo Sports facilities while being conducted on a facility tour of the stadia. He however, expressed excitement over the vision and determination of the present Imo Government to change the narrative.
Dr. Dare congratulated Imo State for what it has put in place to restore the glorious days of sports in the State. He expressed admiration for the Imo model of having every local government build a mini-stadium or upgrade existing one and said the ministry was adopting the model as a strategy for restoring the fortunes of sports from the grassroots to the federal level.
Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, In his opening remarks, he said, “I am very happy to be here and I must commend Governor Emeka Ihedioha for using sports as a pilot drive to reposition and resuscitate Imo State. With Ihedioha, we are well assured that Imo will once more take its rightful position as number sporting state in the country.
Former national director of sports and former FIFA/ CAF executive member, Dr. Amos Adamu, lauded Ihedioha for his vision in creating the sports commission. “I must without mincing words commend Ihedioha for creating the sports commission which has now removed all the bureaucratic bottlenecks surrounding the ministries particularly sports. I am proud to associate with Ihedioha and his sports development in sports in Imo State”, Adamu noted.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Sunday Dare, has expressed delight over the vision of the current Imo State government for sports development, he also, indicated that the Federal Ministry of Sports would be adopting the model at the federal level. Said he “I would be canvassing the model in all the other states of the federation as a strategy for developing sports at the grassroots.”
The Minister gave this indication during his keynote address as Special Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony of the ongoing Imo State Sport Summit at the Imo Concorde Hotel Owerri.
Dr. Sunday Dare also lamented the level of rot he saw in Imo Sports facilities while being conducted on a facility tour of the stadia during the visit.
He however, expressed excitement over the vision and determination of the present Imo Government to change the narrative.
Dare congratulated Imo State government for what it has put in place to restore the glorious days of sports in the State. He expressed admiration for the Imo model of having every local government build a mini-stadium or upgrade existing one and said the ministry was adopting the model as a strategy for restoring the fortunes of sports from the grassroots to the federal level.
He also expressed hope that the new slogan for Imo would change to “Imo: Home of Sports.”