THE Ebonyi Government on Wednesday received the victorious athletes who represented the state in the South-East zonal eliminations for the forthcoming National Sports Festival in Edo, held in Owerri.
Mr Charlse Akpuenika, Commissioner for Youths Development and Sports, who received the athletes in Abakaliki on behalf of the state government, said that their feat was unprecedented in the state’s history.
“Ebonyi qualified to represent the South- East in football (male), basketball (female), volleyball (female) and cricket (male and female).
“The state governor was touched when I informed him that the male football team’s qualification for instance, was the first since the inception of the present democratic dispensation in the country.
“ We use this opportunity to thank the governor for the timely release of funds which enabled the state participate at the zonal eliminations,” he said.
The commissioner said that adequate preparation for Edo 2020 will commence in earnest for all the sports the state will participate, in order to ensure a credible outing in the competition.
“The state’s sports council had been directed to prepare an intensive training programme for the athletes, which will include an aggressive closed-camping programme.
“I commend the coaches for ensuring that the athletes trained seriously for the zonal eliminations and assure them that modalities will be put in place to ensure adequate preparation for Edo 2020.
“The governor and the people expect nothing but victory at Edo 2020, as we pray that the athletes remain injury-free for a successful outing.
“I want coaches who engage in poaching of our athletes to be wary, as there would be no room for such at this period,” he said.
He redeemed the pledge of N50, 000 made to the male football team if they qualify for the sports festival and urged the players to be serious as they would be the cornerstone of the state’s new soccer team.
Emmanuel Utobo, Ebonyi Director of Sports, thanked the governor and the sports ministry for their support and promised that the athletes would do the state proud.
“During the zonal eliminations, we competed in football (male and female), volleyball (male and female), basketball (male and female), cricket (male and female) and beach football (male and female).
“We qualified to represent the state in four sports and we assure the state of a credible outing at Edo 2020.
“People used to think that sports is non-functional in Ebonyi, but with this performance, it is clear that sports `is it’ in the state,” he said.
Uche Ogbonna, Captain of the state male football team thanked the government for the reception, adding that it will motivate them for higher performances.
“We are being treated as if we have won the competition already and we pledge to surpass our previous achievements at the competition.
“We lost our first match at the zonal elimination, but regrouped to win the remaining matches which ensured our qualification,” he said. (NAN)
– Jan. 29, 2020 @ 15:05 GMT |