By Izunna Okafor, Awka
Different groups and individuals, on Wednesday, smiled home with mouthwatering prizes, as the maiden edition of the Solution Inter-Ward APGA Football Tournament came to a happy end at the Otuocha Stadium in Aguleri, Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The month-long football tournament, which was kicked off in November at the same venue, is an initiative of the Anambra State Commissioner for Power and Water Resources, Engr. Julius Chukwuemeka, who is also the sponsor of the competition.
The Solution Inter-Ward APGA Football Tournament, featured the participation of youths from the 15 political wards in Anambra East Local Government Area, with Nando Ward III team squaring it out against Nsugbe Ward II team in the grand finale.
Although the players and goalkeeper of Nsugbe Ward II proved to be sportingly talented, their lucky opponents from Nando Ward III had their luck shine at the peak of the competition, with a thrilling turn out of events that culminated in a loud goal that oozed from Stephen Izuchukwu of jersey number 10, who yawned their opponent’s net just 13 minutes before the final whistle. The resounding cheers that followed signaled not just the victory on the field but a triumph for unity, progress, and the sustained spirit of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra East.
Speaking at the event, the Deputy Governor of the State, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, lauded Commissioner Chukwuemeka’s visionary initiative, hailing it as a beacon for grassroots development, community engagement, physical fitness and youth empowerment, which, he said, all aligned seamlessly with Governor Chukwuma Charles Soludo’s overarching vision.
While highlighting the various feats the Governor has recorded in different sectors of the State, especially those that impact the youths; Deputy Governor Ibezim also said the future of sports in Anambra State was brighter, judging from the quality of talents displayed by the youths and the efforts of the State government in sports. He further encouraged the youth to embrace sports as not just a recreational pursuit but also as a pathway to lucrative careers, even as he reiterated Governor Soludo’s unwavering dedication to reaching every corner of the state and ensuring that every community gets the touch of the transformative initiatives of the APGA government in the State.
Earlier Speaking, the initiator and facilitator of the tournament, Commissioner Chukwuemeka underscored the its potential in fostering sporting excellence and community unity. He explained that the initiative aimed to hunt, showcase, and harness the sporting talents in Anambra East, empower the youths, as well as create a platform for unifying and positively engaging the youths. The Commissioner also emphasized the uniqueness of the initiative, revealing that every player who took part in the tournament has an APGA membership card, which implies aligning sports with political engagement, a strategy, he said, would also encourage civic participation among the youths.
Commissioner Chukwuemeka, who said the initiative coincides with Governor Soludo’s vision of comprehensive development, also expressed optimism about the enduring impacts the initiative would have on the local community, the lives of the youths, the prospects of APGA, and the broader goals of the APGA-led government in Anambra State.
Earlier speaking shortly after kicking off the match, the National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Barr. Sly Ezeokenwa, who also commended Commissioner Chukwuemeka for the initiative, said it was in concordance with the ideology of the party and its government in the State, especially in the area of encouraging human capital development. While attesting that Anambra has many beautiful talents, Barr. Ezeokenwa also revealed that the tournament had unraveled and galvanized many of the raw talents among the youths, which could also be harnessed as parts of the State’s exports to the world in the nearest future.
The APGA National Chairman also underscored the benefit of such platforms and initiatives in keeping the youths positively engaged and taking off their attention from crimes and other social vices prevalent in the society.
Other personalities who graced the occasion include the State’s Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Hon. Tonycollins Nwabunwanne; his Youths Development counterpart, Mr. Patrick Aghamba; the APGA Youth Leader, Hon. Tochukwu Obiadi; among other stalwarts of the party and top government functionaries.
The day also featured Ụyaka competition, also facilitated by Commissioner Chukwuemeka, with each of the fifteen wards in Anambra East Local Government Area represented in the competition by a woman. Ụyaka, a special performance dance that showcases the rich cultural heritage of the people, saw Mrs. Ngozi Anekwe from Umueri Ward II winning the first prize in the competition and going home with the grand prize of a brand new motorcycle as a trophy for her victory.
The first runner-up, Mrs Cordelia Ubagu from Aguleri Ward II and the second runner-up, Mrs. Chieji Agbogidi from Eziagulu Ward also received brand new 32-inch plasma TV and a brand new generator as prizes respectively; while all the competitors also received quality Hollandis wrapper and scarf as consolation prizes.
On the other hand, the champion in the football tournament, Nando Ward III team received a whopping sum of one million naira (N1,000,000) and a trophy as the grand prize; while the second and the third positions winners, Nsugbe Ward II team and Umuoba-Anam Ward team got mouthwatering prizes of four hundred thousand naira (N400,000) and two hundred thousand naira (N200,000) respectively; even as each player in the winning teams received a gold medal and official handshake, among other consolation prizes.