800 schools battle for honours as Abia School Sports Festival begins
About 800 Abia State government-approved private and public primary/secondary schools are to compete in the re-activated Abia State Schools Sports Festival, tagged “Catching them Young,” which was flagged-off at the weekend at Osusu, Amaukwa Model School in Obingwa LGA by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Abia State Youth and Sports Development Commissioner, Chief Emeka Ikwuagwu said the festival was revived following the governor’s directive to among others, revive school sports and discover raw young sporting talents hidden at the grassroots, adding that each participating school would compete in at least one of the 18 sporting events in the boys/girls’ categories.
He said, “Our intention is to expose these school children to as many sporting activities as the facilities are readily available, hoping that the first set of students to be trained in the Nsulu Games Village will be talents harnessed from this three-week sports festival scheduled to commence from the LGAs to the zones and then to the state finals.
He disclosed that going by the interest already shown by two foreign universities and reputable sports promoting agency in this 2020 edition of the now adopted annual festival, very talented athletes from the games would gain sports scholarships to study abroad.
He added that the festival, which his ministry is organizing in collaboration with the state’s Ministry of Education, would also feature a table tennis duel between Governor Ikpeazu and his Ebonyi State counterpart, Chief Dave Umahi.
While flagging off the festival and unveiling the logo, Governor Ikpeazu said the only way to identify and promote sports in the society was to begin from grassroots development, adding that the essence of the festival was to re-write the narrative that pupils and students begin early to learn different sporting activities from the cradle.
He recalled that Abia was known for various sporting activities, including handball, football, sprints, wrestling, and weightlifting, among others in both the male and female categories, adding regrettably, that the only functional sport in the state is football.
Minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, represented by Dr. Ademola Aare, who noted his ministry’s great support to grassroots sports development, said it was the only way to enhance sports awareness among students hence it not only exposes them to different sporting activities but addressed the dwindling sports performance.
He lauded Abia State for reviving the schools’ sports festival.