Sir Emem Akpabio: Giving Fillip To Budding Talents And Former Internationals
Greatness is measured not by the money a man has, but by the lives he touches and how he contributes to the development of his society.
In modern times, sports have become a veritable tool to aid the development of the humanity. In using sports to achieve this cause, it involves identifying with talents at the grassroots, provision of facilities and ensuring that past heroes are not left to rot after serving their fatherland.
One prominent citizen, who has helped the sporting fraternity without making any noise about it is Sir Emem Akpabio. Silently, the man has been in the forefront of providing succour for grassroots’ talents and those who have brought glory for the country.
The die-hard Arsenal fan’s (he is a season ticket holder) love for sports is tremendous considering that he takes time out of his busy schedule to attend inter house sports and grassroots competitions in Akwa Ibom State, where his love for athletes has endeared him to many. For someone who took active part in sports while growing up on the streets of Ukana, it is not surprising that he continues to shower financial and moral support on budding talents in the state.
An ardent supporter of the defunct Calabar Rovers, Akpabio speaks glowingly of the exploits of players like James Etokebe and late Uwem Ekerika, whose footballing skills he admires a lot. Having been part of sports right from his youth, he sees the present opportunity to contribute to sports by backing events that would touch the peoples’ lives as a worthy cause.
As the current chairman of Ukana All Star team called Chapel of Grace, Akpabio has become friends with former sportsmen, especially footballers, attending to their needs and bringing them together to play games that will bring back memories. Those games, according to some former internationals, have given them the opportunity to also prove that they are not tired despite retiring from the game that brought them fame and fortune.
Former Eagles’ player, Waidi Akanni, who has interacted with Akpabio, said he can be regarded as ‘life saver’ of ex-internationals. He stated that Akpabio does not shy away from helping former stars, who have fallen on hard time and need advice on their present calling.
Akanni revealed, “He has always encouraged us and taken care of our welfare. He also helped secure employment for those who are professionals in other fields. His support for us is unparalleled and I wish he could be saddled with taking sport to a higher level in the country. He is still very active and plays football with us whenever we travel to play the Chapel of Grace All Star team.”
Akanni describes Akpabio as an excellent character, who has been working to achieve great height all his life, noting that sports would become a huge sector with well-meaning individuals like him in charge.
Another international, Friday Ekpo, who also hails from Akwa Ibom, described Akpabio as God-sent and a great man of his generation. He stated that he has shown kindness to people who he came across in his daily life, adding that the way he applies his wisdom in helping to solve other peoples’ problem is legendary.
“His love for the sports is huge, especially at the grassroots. For someone who is very busy, it is heartwarming to note that he visits grassroots games to support to the young kid especially football venues.
What this means is that if saddled with the responsibility of overseeing sports, he will do well,” Ekpo said.
However, Ekpo wants Akpabio to set up a football academy to help nurture the young kids he has mentored all over the country. He added, “I will advice Sir Akpabio to set up a sports academy where young kids can come and develop their talents. It will also help take them away from the street so that they can develop to become stars and win laurel for the country. The academy will be manned by former internationals, who will help nurture the kids and help them realise their ambition of becoming stars.”
Ekpo marvelled at Akpabio’s involvement with the All Star team in Ukana (where he trains) despite his busy schedule. He noted that the way he (Akpabio) applies himself in training depicts his life, which is based on selfless service and straight-forwardness.
The former Eagles’ midfielder lauded Akpabio for the interest he has taken in the welfare the ex-internationals, saying it would help alleviate some of the problems by these set of people who have represented Nigeria at the highest level.
Former Super Eagles’ number one goalkeeper, Peter Rufai, who has also played against the All Stars team in Ukana, noted that Akpabio has shown great love for football and those who have used their talent to win laurel for the country.
“The first thing I would like to say is that Sir Emem Akpabio is a gentleman, who has used his resources to help the sports fraternity. He is ready to assist upcoming stars, while those that have played for the country have become his best friend.
“He identifies with us and always eager to play against us whenever we travel to play his the Chapel of Grace All Star team in Ukana. I also found out that his knowledge about international and national sports is wide and I am amazed that a man of his caliber has time for sports,” Rufai added.
The former Super Eagles goaltender called on other well-meaning Nigerians to emulate the virtues of Sir Akpabio so that sports can get to an enviable height in the country.
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