Imo born sports men 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.
Imo State Governor, Emeka 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, today, November 27, 2019.
Governor Ihedioha lamented that talented sports men 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.
Governor Ihedioha 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 medalist, 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 tge 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.
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