Let the Games begin

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By Patrick Omorodion

In 48 hours from now, the National Sports Festival will begin with Lagos State already boasting it will host the best festival ever experienced in Nigeria since 1973 when the military administration of General Yakubu Gowon instituted the Games to heal the wounds of the civil war which ended three years earlier. What with the festival torch’s arrival through the sea yesterday.

The Main Organising Committee and the Local Organising Committee have both said everything that would make the Games hitch free have been provided and it is left for the athletes to exhibit what they have been practising these past months.

Lagos will no doubt be abuzz in the next fortnight when about 10,000 athletes and over 1,000 technical officials as well as a sizeable number of supporters of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory converge on the usually boisterous city.

One thing is sure in this year’s festival, that is, Lagos State is not hosting to win at all cost like is the usual practice since the biennial event shifted from being a mere Unity Games and one for discovering young and talented athletes to one used to massage the egos of state governors and their bootlicking sports administrators.

Lagos is sure to have on parade young athletes it has discovered and have nurtured over the years as against poaching of ready made athletes who put themselves forward to States who can afford to pay for their services.

No matter what however, Lagos will need to battle the front running States like Delta, Edo and recently Rivers who won the last event hosted on their soil for the overall position but it would be miles ahead of other States in the areas of table tennis and tennis.

Apart from the hustles on the tracks and courts, athletes and visitors are sure going to enjoy their stay in Lagos by visiting areas of interests that abound around the State from Ikorodu to Epe and Badagry, not to mention the popular Bar Beach in Victoria Island.

NFF still beggarly

It is always said that people should put their money where their mouth is, that is matching words with action. But the ever controversial Nigeria Football Federation, NFF is not one to match its words with action.

A couple of days ago, the Governor of Rivers State described the NFF as the most corrupt organisation in the country. Hardly had he finished expressing his opinion than those who describe themselves as the most authentic stakeholders, chairmen of States Football Federation poured invectives on the governor and hoodwinked the NFF into shifting their Annual General Meeting, earlier scheduled for Port Harcourt, mind you at the expense of the Rivers State government, to another venue.

Since they took that decision, they have not been able to find another venue or another  willing governor to host their usual jamboree where they more or less backslap each other, not for progress made in football administration but rather for the personal gains they made over the year under discussion.

One thought that if a beggarly body rejects an offer for free lunch and accommodation, it should fall back on its own resources to do what it wants to call the bluff of its ‘disrespectful’ host as the Rivers State governor is now being seen.

Is it not a shame that after these years, the NFF cannot boast of its own secretariat with a standard conference centre and accommodation for events like the AGM? What has the NFF done with all the mega bucks it has been receiving from FIFA and the Nigerian government?

I pity the NFF though but in order for their AGM to hold, I suggest they  approach the Lagos SWAN to offer them their secretariat at the National Stadium at a very reduced cost. I say at a very reduced cost because Lagos SWAN is not Father Christmas. If  they had been as wasteful as the NFF, that secretariat would not be standing today.

Kudos Lagos SWAN

I was impressed last Wednesday when the Organising Committee of  the 2012 SWAN Cup led by Godwin Enakhena unveiled the logo for the competition at the conference hall of the Lagos SWAN secretariat. I was not only proud because the ceremony was flawless unlike what we are fed with by the NFF yearly during the Federation Cup draws but that it held in the association’s building. This is at a time the NFF is still running from pillar to post, begging State governors for venue and fund to host their AGM.

Somebody rightly told the NFF through their spokesman, Ademola Olajire to come copy from SWAN how to do it right. Mind you, Olajire is one of us, loaned to the NFF to help straighten things up for  them.

The sweet thing about this year’s SWAN Cup, like Enakhena rightly pointed out is the ban of mercenaries by media houses desperate to win. The idea, he said, is not winning but fraternising with one another to ease the stress of news gathering and writing.

The fun filled competition will see Brila FM being led by Dr Larry Izamoje, Mitchel Obi and Ejiro Omonode marshalling the Masterports International squad while Muyiwa Daniel is expected to be in goal for the veterans who will also parade, Harry Iwuala, one time SWAN Cup top scorer.

Unfortunately, soccer-loving Lagosians may not see the dexterity of coach/player Onochie Anibeze and Maradona Tony Ubani as our indomitable Kirikiri Warriors are still mourning the death of our ace defender, Sylva Eleanya, who passed on last month. For his memory, we are hanging our boots this year.

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