Few days after Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) confirmed Calabar as one of the venues for the fast approaching FIFA U-17 World Cup slated for Nigeria, the Cross River State Deputy Governor, Mr. Efiok Cobham, has declared that Calabar will be â€œa wonderful hostâ€.
â€œNow that FIFA has given us high marks in our build-up to host the youths of the world once again, the government of Cross River will do nothing to slow down the pace of work. Weâ€™ll keep at it,â€ said Cobham in an interview with sports journalists in Calabar, the Canaan-City.
The deputy governor said he was confident that the Championship will be used to further expose and market the rich tourism and investment potentials of the state.
He advised the people of the state to prepare themselves for the tournament and to position themselves in such a way that they would be able to key into the opportunities the tournament would provide.
Only last Tuesday, a visibly elated Jack Warner, FIFA Vice President, okayed the U.J. Esuene Stadium after an on the spot assessment of facilities in Calabar on Tuesday.
The Vice President, whose mood was in stark contrast with the last time the FIFA inspection team visited, was impressed at the level of preparedness of the state.
It could be recalled that when the team visited Calabar in May this year, Mr. Warner had expressed his disappointment at the slow pace in which facilities were being put in place for the competition.Â His words, â€œI want to say that at times you guys may have been critical of us. I know that at times you may have felt that we did not want to give you the right to host the world.
â€œI tell you by what we have seen here, thisÂ in my humble opinion is very satisfactory because it has restored our hope and confidence in your ability to achieve. Far too often, you find that people aspire but so few times, they tend to achieve. I think in this particular case you have done both.â€Â â€œI am even more satisfied over the fact that some of the requests we made of you, you have even surpassed. You have been thorough, precise and know your job.”
â€œI was in Kaduna yesterday and I said the centre is ready.. Like Kaduna, Calabar is ready. You can be rest assured Calabar is one of the venues that we shall use..
â€œI want to thank the governors and deputy governors who have made this a success. Without your efforts, it would not be possible.
â€œOn behalf of FIFA, I give you my sincere thanks. I want to thank you for everything and say that Calabar is once again ready to host the world.â€
The FIFA U-17 World Cup will hold from October 24 to November 15, 2009.