That Akwa Ibom State is today placed on the World Sport’s map as the Sports Capital of Nigeria, hosting international tournaments, parading four professional Football clubs of National standard, and attracting laurels and awards, are eloquent testimonies of the commitment of Governor Udom Emmanuel in Youth and Sports Development.
And with Governor Udom Emmanuel being singled out for the Award of Best Sports Governor of the Year (2017) and attracting to Akwa Ibom State three different Awards of Excellence in Sports including: The Most Comprehensive Sports Development State, the Most Patriotic Sports Supporter as well as the Best Sports Infrastructure, leaves no one in doubt on the reason Mr. Udom Emmanuel is christened the Youth-friendly and Sports-loving Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
Since assumption of Office in May 2015, Governor Udom Emmanuel has untiringly channeled huge resources and energies into youth and Sports development, with the realization that sports is a veritable vehicle for the building of sound mind for an active, healthy and vibrant youth population which is very critical in the development matrix of Akwa Ibom State.
The resolute posture of Governor Emmanuel in the development of the sector has yeided much dividends as evident in the numerous attainments and catalogue of achievements recorded so far in the state including: hosting of the first and second editions of the Youth Sports Festival, hosting of national games competitions such as: the 11th Nigeria Navy Games (2017) the 3rd Nigerian Air Force Inter-Command Combat Sports Competition (2018), the South/South Elimination series of Nigeria of National Games (2018) as well as the ongoing construction of Sports Centers across the 10 Federal Constituencies of the state with one completed at West Itam Secondary School and one near completion at ONNA LGA.
Governor Udom Emmanuel has undertaken the training of over 300 youths in various skills including: ICT, Solar power installation and agro-based ventures, sponsoring of youths for overseas training programmes in specialised welding and other engineering fields in USA as well as provision of interest-free loans to youths in the state.
In addition to the appointment of Youths into various positions in government, Governor Udom Emmanuel has also provided employment to Akwa Ibom Youths through the sponsorship of four professional football clubs in the state namely: Akwa United FC, Ibom Angels FC, Akwa Starlet FC and Ibom Youth FC.
It is worthy of note that, Akwa Ibom State is conspicuously placed on the world sport’s map with the successful hosting of international matches namely: the Nigeria’s Nationwide League (Amateur Division) and Nigeria National League (Pro-League Division) in 2018, all through the instrumentality of Governor Udom Emmanuel.
More so, the Governor vigorously energized the Akwa United FC into winning the Nigeria’s FA Cup (AITEO) for two years in 2015 and 2017, facilitated the emergence of Ibom Angels FC as Runner-up in the 2017 and 2018 Nigeria’s Female FA Cup as well as well catalysed the promotion of the State-owned Ibom Youth Football Club from Nigeria’s Nationwide League (Amateur Division) to Nigeria National League (Pro-League Division) in 2018.
Governor Udom Emmanuel has continued to seize any available opportunity to showcase the Akwa Ibom youth in the sporting arena to the greater advantage of the state. In 2019, Akwa Ibom State came out with 4th position on the medal table in the National Youth Games while Team Akwa Ibom finished with 2nd position on the medal table in the 2017 National Youth Sports Festival held at Ilorin, Kwara State.
It has been an epochal season for youths of the state under the leadership of Governor Udom Emmanuel with eight indigenous athletes sponsored for participation in the African Youth Games in Algiers with four medals won in the colour of Nigeria in 2018 while indigenous Coaches were also sponsored to attend international Championships and refresher courses outside the country.
Need it be mentioned here that, intervention works are ongoing at the Uyo and Ikot Ekpene stadia, contractual maintenence is in place for the God’s will Akpabio International Stadium (Nest of Champions) while work on the ultramodern 18,000- seat capacity Eket Township Stadium nearing competition but for hampering by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In all, eloquent testimonies abound in Youth and Sports development, particularly, in placing Akwa Ibom State on the World Sport’s map with the successful hosting of international tournaments, parading of four professional Football clubs of National standard, creating youth employment and attracting laurels and awards to the state, all culminating into the christening of Mr. Udom Emmanuel as the Youth-friendly and Sports-loving Governor of Akwa Ibom State.