Sports Development

Putting Akwa Ibom on the global sporting map

Governor Godswill Akpabio’s efforts at making Akwa Ibom State a destination was also extended to the sports sector development. One of the major achievements in this sector is the construction of a 30,000 capacity Olympicsize stadium, which has already placed Akwa Ibom State on the global sporting map. The new stadium, rated as the best in the sub region has boosted sports development and attract national and international sporting events to the state such as Nigeria-Ghana, Nigeria- Bolivia friendly matches as well as AFCON qualifiers between Nigeria and South Africa.

This exercise produced the like of Esatang, from Eket, who took second position in the President Umar Musa Yar’Adua National Squash Competition in Abuja in 2008. The position qualified Esatang for invitation to represent Nigeria at the International Squash Racket Competition in Switzerland. The Akpabio administration was conscious of the fact that provision of the best sporting facilities alone would not place the state conspicuously on the national and international sports map. It therefore, put in place a deliberate policy to develop sports, with a view to taking the state to enviable heights in sports. For instance, the government created an enabling environment for youth activities through the establishment of the State Youth Council, the body that supervises youth activities and programmes in the state.

The government spared no effort in making participation in sporting activities attractive to the youth. It sponsored and also provided financial support to the state’s Under-16 female football club – Ikot Abasi Queens – for participation in the International Football Championship in Brazil in 2009. The team won the prestigious Cuba Golden Trophy donated by the president of Brazil.

Through the encouragement of Governor Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State made significant contributions to the growth of sport in the country.It was during his tenure that the state produced such sporting greats as Samuel Peter, a former World Boxing Council (WBC) world heavyweight champion the African to win the coveted belt, and Vincent Enyeama, the current number one goalkeeper for the country’s national football team – the Super Eagles and arguably Africa’s number one goalkeeper. The State’s contribution to the growth of sports in Nigeria during Akpabio’s administrations is also evident in the fact that it introduced seven new competitive sports to the existing 18, for national competitions. These include golf, darts, ayo (nsa-isong) and kick-boxing. Others are baseball, hockey and cycling.