Stakeholders, talent scouts, fans throng Awka as 2020 Police Games begin
They came from all walks of life, with varying agenda to the Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, where the 2020 Police Games was flagged off at the weekend.
The game tagged Awka 2020, offers different things to the different class of spectators at the venue, besides the thrills and frills of the track and field events.
The games began with a parade of policemen, students, and athletes from the various teams participating in the competition. Just outside the Square was a trade fair atmosphere, where traders displayed all types of wares, ranging from electronics to clothing materials and foods.
Speaking while welcoming the participants to the Games, Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano said: “When the story of the new Anambra State is told, the Nigeria Police Force will occupy an enviable position as incredible partners of the state.
“This is the first national festival that would take place in the state and this is the first Police Games in the South East. “Through history, sports have played a major role in closing the gaps between people and strengthening the ties that bind us as a nation. Sports have a way to unite people and create hope where there was only despair.”
The governor predicted that over N1.5 billion would be realised as revenue from the Police Games through commercial activities that would last for the seven days of the festival. He recalled great Anambra sportsmen and women, who bestrode the national sports scene, including John Mikel Obi, Obinna Nsofor, Emmanuel Okala, Mary Onyali, and the late Power Mike, adding that Anambra was ready to play significant roles in Nigerian sports development.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu thanked the Anambra State government for hosting the Games, saying it is significant to the Force for a number of reasons.
“Sports is considered a crucial part of our operations. This is because all police officers are expected to maintain a certain level of fitness and mental alertness and the Police Games is an opportunity to achieve that goal,” he said, adding that the Police Games is a unique opportunity to entertain and build a better relationship with the community.”
Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, who spoke extempore, said he expected the Police Games to produce sportsmen and women that would join Team Nigeria for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He also reiterated the need for the public/private sector partnership, adding that if the Police, with all their security tasks, could find time for sports, there was no excuse for any government, state, corporate body or individual not to have time for sporting activities.
The opening ceremony had a carnival-like atmosphere garnished by performances from the Ijele masquerade and musicians, Harrysong and Flavour.
In his speech, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu noted that the games were most important to the force at a time when the police were faced with the challenges of insecurity.
Minister for Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari, lauded the success of the Nigerian Police in crime-fighting, adding that government was working on recruiting 10,000 persons into the force.
The Nigerian Police Games has produced top athletes like Atlanta Olympics gold medallist, Chioma Ajunwa, who is currently an Assistant Commissioner of Police, former Super Eagles striker, Julius Aghahowa, the late Olympic medallist, Sunday Bada, as well as former world heavyweight boxing champion, Samuel Peter.
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