Youth football tourney and PDP strategy to reclaim Imo

engr charles ugwu

That the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Imo State chapter is desirous of reclaiming the state is no longer news. What may be news is the strategy the party is adopting to achieve this desire. The party from all indications lays claim to the state as its own notwithstanding that it is not in power. Its supporters strongly believe that PDP is Imo and Imo is PDP, and would bounce back to power in a matter of time. The popular opinion of the party members is that the party was wrongly dislodged and is set to reclaim what it has been denied.
That the party is set to bounce back could be glimpsed from some of its strategic effort at mobilizing the masses. The recent mobilization effort is anchored on getting the youths engage in a football tournament among the 27 local government areas of the state. The championship designed to get the youths demonstrate their skill is strategic in more ways than one. Last week the newly elected Chairman of the party, Engr Charles Ugwuh inaugurated a 13-man Committee to organize the tourney.
One thrilling factor about that effort is that the party is devising ingenious ways of implementing its policy in certain areas it has mapped out during the short period it held sway. The party is not in government but is at the same time as an opposition party helping the government in power to close the gap in certain areas the ruling government may have overlooked or lacking in strength to do.
It cannot be taken away from the party that it recognizes the role of sports to creatively engage our youths, take them off the streets, and create employment opportunity as well as entertain the people. Through football the state has the potential to export abundant talents and earn foreign exchange. There is abundance of manpower here in the state begging to be harnessed not just in football but in other crafts-music, dancing, drama. arts etc
The sports policy of the PDP government is manifest in so many ways and one of the ways it is drilling it down is the youth championship. Recall that Governor Emeka Ihedioha on arrival set about establishing 27 local stadia, one in each local government. This is aimed at growing budding local talents but the dream has been killed by the present All Progressives Congress (APC) of Gov Hope Uzodinma whose insight could not fathom the value of such a valuable project. Shockingly, a lofty dream has become an abandoned projects with huge sums sunk in.
If these stadia which ought to have been completed by now given the speed at which it was running under Ihedioha, were to be there, it would have provided a platform to host competitions at various levels in the state. Perhaps they could have been hosting competitions of this nature and more.
Some tongues which had wagged that the new PDP chairman does not belong to the young breed are now recanting after the man inaugurated a youth championship which he acknowledged as a strategic move that can win votes. For some times now there is no form of competitive game in the state through which latent talents could be harvested to bring national and international glories nor channel the energies of the youths. Imo used to be the home of sports but where are we today?
During the inauguration of the Committee, the state chairman charged them to make the competition very glamorous and the envy of others even as he warned them against any form of bickering. Ugwuh reminded the youths that football is a great marketing tool and a great opportunity they can utilize to grow their careers. He promised that the party would put resources in the venture.
Football is a veritable instrument for galvanizing the young ones. Football is popular among them and can provide a rallying point of contact. The youth population is said to represent 60% of the entire population. The youths are also in the hearts of the aged ones. Getting them to support in a venture is like getting everybody to the table because of the influence they wield.
The State Secretary Nze Ray Emeana and a former legislator noted thus, “if we turn it to a successful crowd event, it becomes a strong motivational tool. We can also harvest talents for exports that will be marketable outside the state.”
Thus it is not difficult to behold the strategic intent and the huge political dividend that awaits the party in playing into the hearts of the people. Football is a mover of emotions. Nigerians are divided on many issues and remain very divisive on ethnic matters but the moment there is global contest in which Nigeria is involved, the victory of the players bring all the ethnic groups together. It is only in football that I can perceive one Nigeria.
I see this playing out in the youth championship. The Chairman of the Organizing Committee Kelechi Eke got this point very well when he told the participants at the event that even APC youths can adorn the PDP jersey and play for their respective Council areas. Spirit of accommodation and sportsmanship you can say.
A new broom they say sweeps clean. And so we can begin to see the digital chairman begin to unwrap the package that he has brought to the table. This is innovative and quite exciting. The chief scribe got it right when he said that, “this is the first time a political party is floating a football tournament, the Committee should set clear standards and eschew the temptations of shifting the goal posts at the middle of the game.”
The Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Kelechi Eke promised that his team will deliver. In his words, “we will make it a huge success, we will make it the envy of all, we will bring our expertise, and we will bring scouts to fish out hidden talents. Those who thought out this have a good direction I ask for your support.”
When the scouts identify good players that can sell it is possible the party is going to reap huge financial dividends which can support it in meeting its financial challenges. Here I can see the party using one stone to kill many birds. Would you grudge them that?
It is not in doubt that the tournament would be confronted by some challenges especially in the area of finance. It might pose a herculean task for a party that is not in power raising the necessary wherewithal. But drawing from the pedigree of the chairman who has demonstrated appreciable professional skills in running his business we do not think that the party would get into any venture they would not see their way to succeed or at least remain afloat to realize the objective of the venture.
Members inaugurated include Kelechi Eke (Chairman), Ikechukwu Onyechere (Secretary), Engr Okey Eronini, Saviola Godswill, A.I. C Akwarandu, Collins Opuruzor, Chisom Ojukwu, Arc Nonso Odoemena, Dr. Walter Duru, Chigozie Nwagbara, Uche Bana, Aham Onyenobi, Emmanuel Nwebo
Last week the Special Assistant to the Governor on Sports speaking to members of the Association of Mbaitoli Journalists (AMJ) indicated that the government has taken delivery of world class gymnasium imported by the Ihedioha administration and promised that they are going to leverage on it to improve sports in the state. In the absence of any known blue print to grow sports by the present government we urge them to sustain the sports policy they inherited for which the Sports Minister came to copy and recommend to all other state. Grassroots sports is key and the PDP example is a step in the right direction
It is important at this point to urge the present government to step up effort in growing sports in the state. Now that it has taken delivery of the sports equipment imported by the Ihedioha’s government we advise that this should be put to maximum use. For a long time in this state there has not been age grade competition from where we can catch them young. With what the PDP is doing now the government should take a cue from there and take sports to greater height.

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