ACCORDING to Michael Jeffrey Jordan, the outstanding US basketball player“never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” Governor Willie Obiano may have had this in mind when he flagged-off the Anambra State 2018-19 football season on December 4, 2018.
Addressing footballers, stakeholders, and other sporting enthusiasts that day as he was represented by the Deputy Governor, Dr Nkem Okeke, Governor Obiano declared “I assure you that very soon we will be among the top three states in sports in Nigeria.”
Governor Obiano went further to state “it gladdens my heart that the Sports Development Commission is giving sports development in Anambra State the seriousness it deserves.
“Like I said in my opening sentence: sports are serious business. I am particularly thrilled at the efforts being made to catch them young. You will notice that in today’s programme, we will be launching football competitions among the Under-13s and Under-17s. This is the way to go towards the realisation of our vision and mission for the state, as well as promoting sound health, friendship, and building an increasing pool of new millionaires from sports.”Obiano said.
The Anambra Sports Development Commission was then just about a month old. Since then it has been electrifying sports in Anambra State with telling positive results: the state contingent to the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja won about 30 medals, the state’s best ever result; two members of that contingent, Rosemary Nweke and Ifeoma Nwoye, both went on to win bronze medals at the African Wrestling Championships held in Tunisia in the first quarter of 2019. Another member of that contingent, Nnamdi Chinecherem, only last week became IAAF’s number one in the Javelin throw (700G) men.
The Anambra Walk4Life exercise is another innovative programme that has since held seven successful editions while potential sponsors jostle for ownership of rights to the programme.
Football in Anambra State has been even more electrifying, particularly, in the last two weeks. The innovative Security Challenge Cup entered its semi-final stage on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, with the Nigeria Police Force meeting the Federal Road Safety Corps in the first semi-final, while the Nigerian Civil Defense Corps squared up against Nigeria Immigration Service in the second semi-final.
In the words of a spectator at one of the U-13 qualifying matches, “Anambra will soon be a Mecca for football scouts. The new football millionaires envisaged by Governor Obiano may be here earlier than we expect”