Excitement grips Imo as state sports festival torch moves round LGAs
It has been excitement galore as the 13th Imo Sports Festival torch moves round the 27 Local Government Areas before the Festival commences on December 12.
When the festival was slated for December 2019, not a few were skeptical considering that it had not taken place in the last 11 years. In fact, for the entire duration of the last administration, a festival that had been held 12 times in the past, never took place.
Sports was comatose in the state. Morale was at an all-time low as there was little or no attention from the government of the day. It was also on record that throughout the duration of the last administration, not a pin was added to facilities at the Owerri Sports Complex.
The lack of attention and consequently poor welfare packages meant many of the state’s athletes moved to other states for greener pastures. Based on these gloomy images of the immediate past, many could be pardoned for not being optimistic that the Festival will be resuscitated so soon into the current administration of Governor Emeka Ihedioha. For them, it was a matter of ‘seeing is believing’.
But there have been very positive vibes since Ihedioha lighted the Festival torch at the Government House on Monday, December 2. At the event, he reiterated his resolve to reposition sports in the state.
His words: “We are here to repackage and reposition sports in the state. First, this administration must ensure that all the necessary facilities must be put in place for our sports to grow and develop”.
While announcing the award of scholarships to the state’s athletes who excelled in national and international events, he reechoed the state’s unflinching quest to host the 2022 National Sports Festival. To this end, a committee has been put in place to package an elaborate bid for the Festival.
The Governor pointed out that the sporting facilities being fixed will serve for the NSF and beyond. He was optimistic that soon Imo will become a major sporting hub in the country, attracting key international tournaments.
Gradually, Imo sporting faithful are catching the Governor’s infectious optimism bug. This writer has been part of the Festival torch tour of the LGAs and has noticed the ‘I-can-do’ spirit that is sweeping through the state, down to the grassroot. It didn’t matter if the torch touched down in Ahiazu Mbaise, Ngor Okpala, Ihite Uboma, Obowo, Ehime Mbano, Okigwe, Onuimo or Ikeduru, the response was the same.
Those who didn’t believe the Sports Festival will take place this year are now singing different songs seeing the torch moving round the LGAs. With renowned special sports athlete Goodnews Chinasa Duru, the torch bearer, the torch is received by a notable athlete from each LGA and handed over to the LGA chairman.
As the torch moves round, it inflames the passion in the sporting faithful. The quest by each LGA to emerge victorious was also evident. This was what they had missed for over a decade. It is possible for many to have even forgotten the processes involved in the build-up and the Festival proper.
Leader of the Sports Festival torch tour team is Imo State Sports Commission Chairman, Fan Ndubuoke. From one LGA to the other, he espoused the administration’s resolve to give a new lease of life to sports in the state.
Receiving the torch, the LGA chairmen promised to key into the administration’s quest to bring back the glory days of sports in the state.
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