By Akanimo Kufre (Uyo)
As the 2nd edition of Akwa Ibom youth sports festival came to a close Saturday, many new sports like Skate Roller, Rugby and Cricket are counting outstanding benefits to their game. The State annual youth event saw first edition winners, Oruk Anam LGA repeat spectacular performance to emerge overall winners again in 2018 edition.
Oruk Anam LGA secured total of 119 medals, 72 Gold, 27 Silver and 20 Bronze medals. Uyo came 2nd with 121 medals, 41 Gold, 49 Silver and 31 Bronze while Itu came 3rd with total 104 medals, 33 Gold, 25 Silver and 46 bronze medals.
The top three winning LGAs unlike last edition were rewarded with Cash prizes of ₦10 million, ₦5 million and ₦3 million respectively. The dummy cheque were presented through Zenith Bank representatives in the presence of representative of Akwa Ibom State governor, Honourable Minister of Youths and Sports, Commissioners, Local government Chairmen and Sports dignitaries at Ibom international Stadium, Nest of Champions, Uyo.
The initiator and proponent of the Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival dream of discovering new Serena Williams and players for Arsenal FC has started in living form. Not only has this yielded for Gov Udom Emmanuel in major sporting events but tangible reward has been recorded for newly introduced sports like cricket in the youth sports festival.
Cricket like Rugby and Roller Skate was newly introduced as competition sports in the 2nd edition of the festival. Before now many school kids were less interested in cricket because their school or local government was too busy with football and athletics.
Thanks to Coach Aniedi Dickson, Permanent Secretary and Hon. Monday Uko, the Commissioner for Youths and sports who saw potential in the fast rising sports of cricket in the country.
As competition started proper on Wednesday, the Four Towns field was filled to capacity with mostly kids who never understood or played cricket until the past three months.
The pleasant midweek morning weather and Akwa Ibom government gave them opportunity to make history with enthusiasm and apprehension. Coincidentally that same morning, three U19 boys from Akwa Ibom left Four Towns pitch to Benin, Edo state for national assignment after biding their cricket comrade farewell. They were three selected from Akwa Ibom to make up 45 players invited for trials and opportunity to play for Nigeria. Of course the selection board has work on their performance profile with last December Men’s Championship record providing much guidance. Happiness Edet, Joseph Edet and Daniel Godwin performed their best at Uniport prelims for South-south such that attracted the national attention.
It could be recalled these three U19 invitees started out in secondary competitions too but on less glamorous platform as Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival. They played in school cricket championship that was sponsored by two veteran cricketers, Bar. Ime Asibong and Mr. Ini Okopido.
A major aspect of sports development is participation in organized competition. And this is what Gov. Udom Emmanuel has provided to Akwa Ibom athletes in 25 sports in Akwa Ibom Youth Sports Festival.
Another benefit the Akwa Ibom youth sports festival brought was promotion and sponsorship. A sports analyst in Akwa Ibom, John Paul Ukpong expected the organizers of the AKS Youth Sports Festival to directly invite scouts, promoters and national coaches to witness and hand pick these new talents on the spot. “The ministry of youths and sports or Akwa Ibom State government should do well to invite sports legends, administrators of national and international repute to watch these kids for grooming. Let’s reach out to Samuel Peter, Aruna Quadri, Daniel Igali and Enefiok Udobong to motivate as well as take interest in developing these kids.”
For cricket, new players were spotted with exceptional fielding, batting, bowling and wicket keeping skills. Saviour Onofiok playing for secondary boys’ team, Uyo LGA made a fantastic catch that attracted spontaneous applause from even unlearned cricket spectators. His younger brother in primary Fortune Onofiok,7, made good hits as well in the Primary school male category. The mother was so excited and went mile to get photographer to picture her kids with medals.
Another cricket family were the Enobongs, Favour Enobong captained Uyo male team, Salome Enobong was equally the skipper to Uyo female team while their younger brother Covenant Enobong played for primary school section. All three went home with medals to meet proud parents who found it worthy to allow their kids the privilege of sports participation.
Other glamorous players discovered were Samuel Sunday, Daniel Wilson and Sarah Ekwere all from Itu LGA. Favor Paul and Ikouwem both from Obot Akara LGA female team did brilliant batting and bowling at the finals for Hon. Monday Uko, commissioner for Youths and Sports’ LGA. Charles Sunday and Jessica Emmanuel made superb performance for Uyo LGA with extraordinary batting runs rate from Jessica. Daniel Gabriel and Joseph Udoh of Obot Akara LGA strike rate gave Itu LGA the gold winners worries at the boys’ finals. Earlier on, Obot Akara boys shocked officials as their gallantry offset Uyo to Bronze position.
For the success of the youth sports festival, Coach Aniedi Dickson, Permanent Secretary thanked the governor Udom Emmanuel tremendous support. “For me I want to really thank the state governor His Excellency for giving us opportunity to interpret his vision and my honourable commissioner for the love and the force he used for the success of the youth game. I want to say that this is the best thing to happen to Akwa Ibom state because this is what we did last time to select athletes which perform very very well at the national youth games. We had demonstration for rugby yesterday, it creates awareness for new sports like cricket and rugby, and we want to have as many sports as possible. We want to want to give many youths opportunity to showcase their talents.”
Also Coach Dickson affirms that the state is serious about being the sports capital of Nigeria if not Africa and therefore not burdened to develop new sports like cricket. In similar vein, the permanent secretary in a telephone chat with Brig. Gen. Lonsdale Adeoye gave the shooting federation president assurance that Akwa Ibom is looking forward to develop shooting sports as well. He said: “Shooting sports is one of our Associations, we have to encourage Shooting and make it as important as other sports associations. I did promise Gen Adeoye rtd that we are going to inaugurate the association and listen to their plight.”
A total of 937 medals were decorated to athletes from 25 events. Of this figure were 282 Gold, 281 Silver and 374 Bronze medals All 31 LGAs presented about 40,000 junior athletes right from preliminary stage of the competitions.
NNN.COM.NG is a portal where you can read latest Nigeria News from all Nigeria Newspapers such as such as Punch, Vangaurd, Daily Times, Thisday, Guardian, Nation, Leadership and more in one place. NNN aggregates Naija News and sort them according to their sources, category and relevance as a way of reducing the effort a news reader needs to put in to reading breaking news in Nigeria and across the world.