By Onochie Anibeze, Group Sports Editor
The ovation was still loud when Patrick Ekeji stood from his chair, turned to me and said “this is good for sports.”I waited to hear more from him but he looked sideways and repeated, “This is good for sports, this is good for sports.”
That captured the evening and he needn’t say more. He was awed and felt good. He had just finished presenting Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan an award for sports development and the governor went ahead to announce awards for the Delta athletes for their performance at the Garden City Games where they placed second. Rivers hosted and won.
Ekeji was not only awed by the governor’s motivation of his athletes but the entire package. The night at the Grand Hotel was, perhaps, one of the most exciting many had experienced.
It was an award night for the athletes but, like Delta has always done in sports, it went beyond that. It was an entertainment night and a day that Delta announced what could be another milestone in their campaign to improve the lots of the people through sports. It was a night of inspiration, fun, glamour, laughter and a day I would like to relive again and again and again.
In these days of hardship when hard news only adds to our despair such nights help in relieving tension in our hearts. I so thoroughly enjoyed it that I felt younger and longed for more. We had a field day.
It was also part of the activities to mark the 20th anniversary of the creation of Delta State. So, apart from athletes, politicians and Deltans from all shades of life graced the day. Uduaghan attended with the wife, Rolly who presented an award to Steve Onyeacholum.
The swimming coach had retired as a Director of Sports, at the Garden City Games and one of the high points of the night was the award to honour him. Steve has lived for sports. His knowledge of sports stands him out. His records and achievements make him iconic.
Emotions went high when Willy Soho, Director of Orientation at the state Ministry of Information read the citation on Steve. He also wrote it. It was so moving that Uduaghan described Steve as still young and promptly appointed him a sports consultant to the state sports commission. Steve lives on sports and for sports.
It was a night of emotions and thrills from the comedians and artists who dazzled all. Those who follow the entertainment industry in the country can imagine an atmosphere where the likes Ay, Gordons, Sheyi Law, Wwizkero entertained in a two hour programme that also had popular musician Timaya thrilling the audience.