By Mmaduabuchi Onwumelu
Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN, Anambra Chapter has ended its Week with a call on members to make SWAN a professional body and as well pay attention to capacity building for our members and further entrench themselves as critical stakeholders in the Anambra sports sector.
The Chairman of SWAN, Anambra State Chapter, Chimezie Anaso who made the call during the 2023 SWAN Week, Lecture/Award Night of the association held in Awka, the Anambra State Capital, said SWAN Week was an annual event which marked the end of activities of the association and also provided stakeholders the opportunity to evaluate activities in the sector during the outgoing year and set the agenda for the coming year.
“We are impressed with the progress in the sports sector of the state, especially the grassroots level”, Anaso said.
He said from the rebirth of school sports, success at the National Youth Games, formation of a state owned football club and just concluded traders competition, the Anambra government had proven that it meant business with sports development.
“SWAN Anambra is impressed with the trajectory of sports development in Anambra. It is not in our place to sing the song of government but, as the sporting press, we promise to continue to commend positive actions and also perform our watchdog role by providing constructive criticisms.
“As we look forward to the new year, as an association, we shall uphold the principles that make SWAN a professional body. We shall pay attention to capacity building for our members and further entrench ourselves as critical stakeholders in the Anambra sports sector.
“We have also identified and nominated individuals and an association for special recognition, these are people who directly or indirectly have impacted positively on growth and development of sports in Anambra”, he concluded.
In his lecture, Tony Nezianya, Public Relations Officer of Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC said grassroots sports development was a worthy path to toe as it would activate the abundant talents of Anambra and Nigerian youth in general adding that sports had so much benefit for society.
Nezianya said the education system was crucial to be redesigned to incorporate mandatory physical education programmes which focus on skill development, knowledge of sports fundamentals and creation of opportunities for students to participate in competitive leagues.
Nezianya was represented by Prof. Chris Abakare, a Lecturer at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and a sports enthusiast.
The NOC Image Maker described grassroots sports as the process of identifying, nurturing, and supporting young athletes at the grassroots level.
According to him, these are the athletes who have the passion and raw talents but lack the necessary resources, facilities, and opportunities to excel. Grassroots sports development aims to bridge this gap and provide a platform for these young individuals to grow and flourish.
“It helps identify and nurture young talent from an early age”, he said.
Nezianya called for an increased investment and active collaboration between government and the private sector to develop the sector adding that provision of sports infrastructure in sufficient quantity and quality will increase access for young athletes.
He said there should be a strong support system for athletes which include access to quality coaching, sports medicine, and professional guidance.
“With these, we can safeguard the physical and mental well-being of our athletes. We need to create and improve sporting infrastructure in our communities, this includes constructing well-maintained sports facilities such as playing fields, stadiums, and gyms.
“We must provide access to quality sporting equipment and resources to enable young athletes to reach their full potential. Sports serve as a powerful tool for social development, engaging in sports activities fosters discipline, teamwork, and a strong work ethic among youth participants.
“Through talent identification and proper training, we can groom young athletes to compete at national and even international levels”, he said.
CP Aderemi Adeoye, Commissioner of Police, Anambra State Command was given an award of recognition for his contributions to sports development in the state through creating a safe environment for sports to thrive. Mr. Chinedu Anyaso, Chairman of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Enugu Depot Community received an award for sponsoring the Odiofele Football competition in his community, Ekwulummiri for years.
The Anambra Cricket Association under the chairmanship of Chuma Anosike was honoured with an award for the Most Grassroots Oriented Sports Association for planting the game in many secondary schools in the state
Obini Onuchukwu, Acting Registrar of the Federation Polytechnic Oko was installed as patron of the association. The chairman commended partners who rallied the association to ensure the success of the event.
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