*To have Academies in boxing, basketball, volleyball
By Patrick Omorodion
The Redeemed Chritian Church of God, RCCG, has resolved to help stem the sliding tide in Nigeria’s sports by embarking on serious grass-roots sports development in line with the passion of its General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, himself a complete sports man.
Special Assistant to the General Overseer, Pastor Johnson Odesola who disclosed this in Lagos recently said the church plans to have a sports refinery to be christened Dove Sports Refinery under which academies in football, basketball, volleyball and table tennis and other related sports will departments.
The project was kicked started last week at its Youth Centre at the Redemption Camp along the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway with the Dove Golden Belt Boxing tournament (which will be a regular fixture on Nigeria’s boxing calendar) which served as part of the 69th birthday of Pastor Adeboye.
The project, Pastor Odesola said would start with a Boxing Academy which will be supervised by a consortium of experienced boxing coaches such as Joe Mensah, Jerry Okorodudu and Daniel Adekunle, adding that the first phase of the academy will be an open camp format to hold at week-ends.
“Male and female youngsters within the 14 and 19 age bracket will be eligible for admission (into the academy) to train towards becoming divine champions,” Pastor Odesola said, stressing that “the RCCG is determined to contribute to the revival and development of sports in Nigeria.”
He said the RCCG was going into sports development because “we believe that sports has the ability to change lives, transform communities, shape the future of nations, reduce crime, improve behaviour, increase ethical, democratic and racial tolerance.”
Meanwhile the church has said that the Dove Golden Belt Boxing tournament, which ended last weekend at the Youth Centre of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) on the Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, will be a regular fixture on the country’s boxing calendar.
Paul Bankole, head of the Directorate of Sports of the RCCG, who disclosed this said that though the tournament was held as part of activities marking the 69th birthday of Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the RCCG, the real reason behind staging the tournament is to help bring about a revival of boxing at the grassroots.
“This is not going to be one of those flash-in the pan tournaments. We remain committed to the tournament and declare that we are in this for the long haul. In the RCCG, we are not too happy with the state of sports in Nigeria particularly boxing, which won Nigeria so many laurels in the past. As a result of this, it is our desire to help revive sports at the grassroots. We have decided to start with boxing because it is sport that is close to the heart of our General Overseer, himself having boxed as an undergraduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka,” Bankole said.
On the just concluded tournament, Bankole said he was impressed both by the performance of the boxers and the turnout of spectators noting that it showed there was hope for the development of the sport. He thanked the Lagos State Government, sponsors of the tournament for their commitment to the growth and development of boxing noting that even though Governor Babatunde Fashola is known as a keen footballer and fan, he has remained determined to ensure the development of other sports in the state:
“We salute Governor Fashola’s commitment to the tournament. At a time most governors are concentrating on fine- tuning their strategies for the coming elections, he has found time to support a sporting programme.
The first edition of the Dove Golden Glove tournament ended with Kehinde Obareh of the Nigerian Army emerging the Most Outstanding Boxer of the tournament. For her efforts she went home with the top prize of N450, 000. Kemi Adebayo and Fijabi Olaide emerged second and third respective pocketing in the process the sums of N350, 000 and N300, 000. They were presented with their prizes by Adeboye on Friday night during the March 2011 Holy Ghost Service of the church at the Redemption Camp.