SPORTS PULSE with VICTOR ENYINNAYA: Mrs Ikpeazu: A Passion and Vision for Women Football

By Daily Sports on November 25, 2015

Views: 1,554

Abia State lost its leading role when the administration of the first executive governor, the urbane academic, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and his counterparts nationwide, was truncated by former military president, Gen Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s regime. By that military fiat, the entire first-rate road map he laid down for the newly-created state sadly went down the drain.

The only thing left intact was the state’s slogan - God’s Own State – which was his brain-child. The story of how Abia was balkanised by successive military administrators and governors could only be better imagined than described.

As an indigene of the state, I must confess that I have been praying that God should give Abia a servant leader that would have the overall interest of the youth at heart. Not the lipstick kind, which is the order of the day in Nigeria today. Since May 29, 2015 when Mrs Nkechi Okezie Ikpeazu became the first lady of Abia State, I have been silently praying and even spicing it up with fasting, no jokes please, that she should look into the direction of any project which would tilt towards youth friendliness. My self-embarked mission stemmed from the fact that I have monitored and also followed her activities in the state closely and, I must say it has by my own rating, marked her out as one of those who may perform creditably in the area of what would benefit the youth.

I liked her contributions to state and national discourse. When it was fashionable for public office holders to deceive the populace, let me refresh my readers’ memory that this year’s Super Six, an annual ritual Women football summit, organised by the Nigerian Women Football League, was held recently, in Umuahia, Abia State capital. My prayer was heard when the state gracefully played host to Women football top flight clubs in the Super Six championship. In her address at the end the final match between the back-to-back champions - Rivers Angels and Bayelsa Queens - wife of Abia governor, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, called on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to introduce Women Champions League. That call came handy when it is imperative that more competitions are needed for our women’s game in the continent to develop. Mrs Ikpeazu who was represented by the wife of the deputy governor, Mrs Vivian Oko-Chukwu, said that the initiative would help to grow the game and also give our girls international exposure. She called on sports enthusiasts and philanthropists to support women football, saying the government could not do it alone.

According to her, women’s football is on the rise globally and Nigeria needs to key into it and tap from the overwhelming benefits for our young women.  The governor’s wife further revealed that Abia State Government accepted to host the tournament despite the short notice given to her, but because we value and enjoy the game of football, we picked it up and we are glad to note its success.

Abia State, she recalls, can boldly be called the home of football in Nigeria, pointing out that the state has four teams playing in the nation’s league. The teams listed include CAF Champions League back-to-back winners, Enyimba International FC of Aba; Abia Warriors FC, Abia Comets and the latest addition, Abia Angels.

My greatest movement came off her address when she promised that the state government would encourage Abia Angels Women FC to get to the height of women football in Nigeria. She is not alone on this her very overdue project in the state. Madam First Lady has won the hearts of many youths in the state. She has created record. I was about faulting her for sending a representative to this kind of an all-important football summit in the state. This is the first of its kind in Abia, nay, the South-East geopolitical zone. In short, she has crafted the state’s name in the sand of time. I digress.

My candid advice for her and the project after her heart is she should be very wary of boot-leakers and empty drums that are already around her. They are deceptive. Abia Angels must thrive. Above all, it must become a one-stop squad. It must not be dead on arrival outfit. Football is a capital intensive project and Abia Angels can be fashioned into public/ private partnership choice. My submission, therefore, is that it must be a team to beat in Women League from next season.

To achieve that would be to get hold of a seasoned women football coach that knows the terrain very well and had played a major role therein. Mrs Ikpeazu was vindicated by very the suave, unassuming and hard working chairperson of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL), Chief Mrs Dilichukwu Onyedinma. After thanking the state for being the worthy host this year, she vividly pointed out that Abia was the only state in the South-East that owned a women football team. Onyedinma then called on the other states in the zone to emulate Abia by sponsoring women football teams as part of efforts to develop that brand of the game in the zone.

She said that the league had recorded appreciable achievements, despite daunting challenges, saying that NWFL was committed to the task of developing grassroots women football in the country. She appealed for corporate sponsorship, which she identified as the only panacea for the major and rapid development of the round leather sport in the country.

First Lady Mrs Ikpeazu has rekindled the lost spirit of the drowning youth in the state. The candle must keep burning and flourish with all the vigour it deserves. Her name would be inscribed in diamond because diamonds are forever. It’s forward with Madam First Lady. I deliberately played down the toga of excellency all the way. Her youth-friendly vision in the state has endeared her more into the hearts of that teeming category of Abians. Viva, Her Excellency, Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu!!

***

Sports at 55: Little to Cheer!

Nigeria celebrated her political independence on October 1. What has greeted the people has been optimism by its leaders past and present that we, as a people, have not performed badly. Therefore, there is still a glimmer of hope. Great as such has been expressed even by commentators, head or tail, the road is still very rough, tough and what have you.

However, this write-up would concern itself on how sports in the country have fared. To unsuspecting pundits, Nigeria has achieved greatness in sports despite the hue and cry. The hardship you may easily hear from such group after all did not affect the sub-sector. However, one must commend the athletes for their never say die spirit that have made the country to be counted in the comity of sporting countries, despite the huge short-changing by the administrators who have amassed wealth at the expense of these gallant young men and women. It is no hidden fact that the poor administration of these athletes has left many in abject poverty, making most of destitute without homes and sundry. Though, the bane of this country has been poor maintenance culture, corruption and management which left all our sporting facilities in very sorry state of despair. However, it is instructive to note here that even when funds were allocated for the revitalisation of these edifices, the administrators misappropriate them to into their private pockets.     

The point here is that Nigerians, especially the athletes, should not lose hope of a better tomorrow. Things won’t continue to be the way it has been. The status quo would change. Sports have not performed better as what have befallen the other sectors in the polity did not spare sports in that regard. It will no longer be news to enumerate all sports have recorded as achievement so far.

The truth is that what we are cheering as achievement in sports would have been more if the country is blessed with imaginative managers and coaches. The visionless act of these people that are only interested in their pocket must pass away. Nigerian athletes will get better deal and ripe from the sector they have made thick and the reason why sports exist in the country in the first place.

The issue is that if we have athletes have suffered so much and brought the few achievements we have mustered so far.  The athletes and their coaches have toiled to bring the story thus far. Have hope, faith, all loving sports fans, all will be well!!

•Enyinnaya can be reached via 08055060145 (sms only) or by e-mail via sportzvictor@yahoo.co.au

Source Daily Sports

Posted November 25, 2015

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