By Obiaku Lancelot Ifeanyi
It is no gainsay that the Sports industry is one of the largest in the world, today. In his article published sometime in 2018, Denise Kwasi Boateng, a masters degree holder in sports management had revealed that, “from a European perspective, sports-related employment represents 2.12 per cent of total employment in the EU, which is equivalent to 4.46 million jobs. As stated by the EU 4 Sports Clutters report, the industry as a whole accounted for 1.76 per cent of gross value added to the collective EU economy. (173.86BN)”
The above statistics highlights the place of sports in providing employment in a developed continent as Europe. Evidently too, Asia and America are not lagging behind as other statistics available shows. But the big question is, where is the place of Africa in sports, today? Incidentally, Africa has high unemployment rate. It therefore calls to mind that if the black continent can take sports to another level, it would go a long way in adding to her economy and significantly reducing unemployment. This is why the governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has taken deliberate steps within his first 100 days in office to create a viable and productive sport sector in the state. This article therefore chronicles some of the notable achievements of the present administration in the state within the time in review, in the sports sector.
Unarguably, the major albatross of sports development is poor administration. Knowing this, Gov. Ihedioha sent an executive bill to the Imo State House of Assembly for the establishment of Imo State Sports Commission which is today a reality, as the bill was promptly passed into law. The commission, which has replaced the ministry of sports, will be in charge of sports administration in the state, thus giving the sector a level of independence. The governor in his wisdom appointed Mr. Fan. Ndubuoke, an experienced sports journalist and house household name in sports administration to head the newly created commission. Banking on the experience and administrative ability of Mr. Ndubuoke, one can confidently say that the sports industry in Imo State will witness remodeling.
Interestingly too, Gov. Ihedioha made another statement of intent when he also appointed a former Nigerian international, Mr. Kanu Nwankwo, as Special Adviser on Sports. Kanu who enjoyed a successful career in football, will work hand in gloves with the sports commission and the state government, to not only discover and develop talents, but ultimately rebrand sports in the Eastern Heartland.
The governor also approved the total rehabilitation of the Dan Anyiam and the Grasshopper Handball stadia. The rehabilitation captures re-grassing of the turfs, changing of the stadia seats, scoreboard and tartan tracks. Furthermore, the ongoing construction of one-stop recreation centres in the 27 LGAs of the state will provide a conducive environment for identification and development of talents in various sports, including athletics, handball, volleyball and long tennis. It is important to note that Gov. Ihedioha in his manifesto pledged to bring school sports back to live. The recreation centers will among other things host school sports competitions in the LGAs.
Furthermore, the governor’s reconstitution of Heartland Football Club Management Board has brought the Owerri based side back to life. The recruitment of highly rated technical adviser, Fidelis Ilechukwu, to lead the club and the recruitment of quality players such as goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who plays for the Super Eagles, has brought back the confidence of fans in the team ahead of the soon-to-commence 2019/2020 Nigerian Professional Football League season.
As with every other sector, Gov. Ihedioha is giving everything to develop sports in Imo State. It wouldn’t be long before the state starts reaping the dividends of the strong foundation he has laid in the sports sector.