Akwa Ibom Female Athletes Off to S/Africa, Morocco for Para Events
By MFON PATRICK
Two Akwa Ibom U-18 female athletes Ability Udoh and Maria-Patience Akpan are on their way to international Para Athletics championships in Morocco and South Africa slated for this month.
National Youth Games 100m record holder Ability Udoh is scheduled to compete in 100m, 200m and 400m as well as in Long and High Jump T-46 events in Para Athletics championships in Morocco from 5-14 March 2023. The competition will also serve as the qualifiers for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, France.
Ability Udoh made history at the just concluded National Sports Festival in Delta State where she set a new national record in the High Jump event, clearing a height of 1.45m to emerge the champion.
Also in 2022 at the Para Athletics Games in Abuja, Ability stormed to victory winning three gold medals and three silver medals for Akwa Ibom State.
While Ability Udoh will be in Morocco, Maria-Patience Akpan who was discovered last year during an Inter-House Sports competition at Community Secondary Commercial School, Ibiaku Itam, will be making her debut at the international stage as she is scheduled to compete in 100m (CP) in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Cape Town, South Africa from 14-22 March, 2023.
Coach of the two athletes Elizabeth Akpan expressed optimism that the youngsters have what it takes to shine at the global stage but stressed that they need all the support they can get to ensure they succeed.
Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, still the best in Nigeria!
On November 7, 2014, the gates of the $96million-valued Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, notably referred to as ‘The Nest of Champions’ were officially opened amidst fanfare and jubilation, especially from football fans across the country who took a deep breath with heads held high that Nigeria had finally gotten a stadium that could pass any international test.
The ultra-modern sports complex boasts a 30,000-capacity stadium with bulletproof VIP and VVIP areas. Natural grass, high-tech floodlights, provision for an indoor sports hall, training pitch, village games, helipad, collapsible seats and two scoreboards that comprise electronic scoreboard and video facilities for replays.
Among all these are dressing rooms, media facilities, a box office, video facilities, 7500 seater Grandstand, a standard eight-lane 400m track, warm-up facility with a six-lane 400m track, a standby power supply system and an ambulance bay.
The stadium structure, modelled after the Allianz Arena in Germany, was designed to meet International Safety Standards. There are 30 emergency exit points estimated to facilitate exit in 6 minutes at full capacity, closed-circuit security cameras, crowd control steel fencing, stand by firefighting equipment and metal detectors.No doubt, the magnificent structure majestically located along the Goodluck Jonathan Boulevard in Uyo is the best stadium in Nigeria and unlike the poor maintenance culture evidently affecting multi-million naira projects across the country, the beauty, neatness and original design of this sports facility are intact thanks to the effort of the Akwa Ibom State government in maintaining the pitches and structure.
Since 2014, the stadium has been a fortress, not just for Akwa United, the state-owned NPFL team that qualified and played CAF Confederation Cup matches on two different occasions on that turf, but also the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 African Cup of Nations both in record time is a credit to that facility.
In fact, the beauty of the stadium which extended to the good hotel accommodation, good transportation network within the city, security and the warmness from the fans whenever the Eagles were in Uyo, endeared the Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr to the Nest of Champions as the home ground of the Eagles because of the focus and concentration the environment provided for the team.
Whatever reason provided by the Nigeria Football Federation – NFF for moving the team from Uyo to Asaba and now to Benin this week can only be understood as leaving the best for the less because of factors only peculiar to Nigeria. Yes, an average Nigerian would prefer the Super Eagles play their matches in a government school football field in his city than watching the team play on TV in a standard stadium. As an international stadium, The Nest of Champions has attracted international footballers and legends. In May 2018, Fernando Torres, Jan Oblak and Thomas Partey were in Atletico Madrid’s squad for a hybrid GOtv MAX Cup against the Nigeria national team in Uyo.
The team also had defenders JuanFran, Sergio Gonzalez, Francisco Montero, Rafael Munoz, Andres Solano. Midfielders Gabi Fernandez , Angel Correa, Victor ‘Vitolo’ Perez, Thomas Partey, Roberto Olabe, Juan Aguero Nunez, Antonio Moya, Mikel Carro, Joaqiun Munoz, Jot and strikers Kevin Gameiro, Borja Garces all present with Coach Diego Simeone. A year later, in April 2019 the Nest of Champions played host to the former Champions League winner and legendary international footballer, Carles Puyol, who was in Nigeria as part of the UEFA Champions League Tour presented by Heineken.
The Unmissable Match also featured Nigerian legend, Jay Jay Okocha. Aside from football events, the facility has also hosted many track and field events; Akwa Ibom State/NNPC/MPN Schools Athletics Championships in 2015, Nigerian Air Force Combat Sports Competition took place in March 2018 and was immediately followed in December of the same year with the launch of the maiden Chief of Naval Staff sports competition. The Nigerian Army and the Police inter-command games also took their turns. Akwa Ibom State Youths Sports Festival has also featured prominently in the last years.
Today, the Nest of Champions remains the pride of the Nigeria Professional Football League as it boasts of the best facilities and can be approved for league games from Abuja without an inspection team except to enjoy the ambience of the city and its hospitality. Football can be played day and night, under the sun and in the rain, it was built for all seasons and conditions. Even the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick can attest to this. He too had a feel of the stadium at night in a friendly match between SWAN Selected and Sports Journalists in Akwa Ibom.
It is no accident that Uyo has become the sports capital of Nigeria. It was a well thought out plan by the then administration of Governor Godswill Akpabio who said on the day of the inauguration, “The sports industry is the industry we can no longer ignore in a developing country. That is why we built this stadium with sophisticated facilities that have met the expectations of FIFA. The stadium is a treasure for all Africans to enjoy and we hope that the stadium will hatch and produce enough athletes in future because this stadium is the ‘Nest of Champions.”
As we celebrate the 6th anniversary of this iconic structure, I hope that the Nigeria Football Federation will maximize the potential and respect this stadium accords the country without sentiment and understand that Eagles only fly anywhere but can only be comfortable in their Nest. While we await other states canvassing to host the Super Eagles matches to put similar standard structure on ground or even more superior, let’s not sacrifice our best for their want, let them pay a price for a world-class stadium. The Super Eagles deserve the best. For now, Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo remains in its honour unrivalled.
This article was written by Bassey Ibiatisuho, a Sports Presenter at Mixx FM, Uyo.
Pen Pushers Wrap up Patrick Albert’s 6-year NUJ Tenure with Victory [PHOTOS]
Pen Pushers provided a deserving end for the outgoing Akwa Ibom State Nigeria Union of Journalist’s Chairman, Elder Patrick Albert with a 1-0 victory over Champions Breweries FC in a valedictory match at the Uyo Township Stadium on Monday.
Champion Breweries began the encounter with business-like determination, dominating play for the first ten minutes and had the Pen Pushers defending resiliently to foil series of attack by the beer brewing side.
A moment of carelessness by Champions Breweries backline gifted the Pen Pushers the only goal of the game as The Ink’s Ubong Inyang lashed perfectly on a fine ball from the left to beat the opponent’s goalie before Centre Referee Zechariah signaled the end of the first half.
In the second half, the Pen Pushers motivated by their lead pushed for the second goal of the game but had their efforts foiled including a penalty taken by Ubong Inyang which hit the left top corner of the woodwork with Breweries’ Goalie rooted to the centre.
The opponents were revived by the miss and terribly pursued an equalizer but the resoluteness and desire of the Pen Pushers to ensure Patrick Albert’s tenure ended on a victorious note maintained the score line and gave the media administrator and his family (present to watch the game) a perfect bow.
Mfon Patrick Proves Technical Acumen
Meanwhile, Pen Pushers Head Coach, Mfon Patrick managed the team to their second victory since their emergence. Earlier this year, the pen Pushers had emerged victorious over their learned colleagues, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) FC. The Media Manager of Akwa United proved his tactical acumen by choosing a formidable starting XI that repaid the faith he reposed in them.
Excel FM’s Kufre Carter was a second-half substitute but largely failed to justify his inclusion. Abuja based Aniekan Udofia, Media Aide to Onofiok Luke, member representing Etinan Federal Constituency in the National House of Assembly was left on the bench while Comfort FM’s Raymond Ita and Radio Nigeria’s Samuel Maurice watched from the stands.
Sweet Father, I no go forget you
Captain of the side, Bassey Ibiatisuho, a Sports Presenter on Planet FM shocked fans after the game with the writings on his undershirt which read, “Happy Birthday Daddy!
According to his facebook timeline, Bassey’s Dad was birthed in and clocked 68 today.
The Sports Presenter was commended by the NUJ Chairman for his role in the emergence of the team.
More to come…
Akwa Ibom FA Chair Congratulates Super Eagles, Thank Nigerians for Support
MFON PATRICK | Sports Journo
Following the Super Eagles qualification to the semi final of the 2019 Africa Cup Of Nations tournament in Egypt, the Chairman, Akwa Ibom State Football Association Mr. Emmanuel Ibah has congratulated the team on their victory over South Africa and also commended Nigerians for their wonderful support towards the team.
Mr. Ibah who is a board member of the Nigeria Football Federation described the victory of Nigeria’s men senior national team as a thing of joy for Nigerians and a show of superiority over the Bafana Bafana.
A goal in each half by Samuel Chukwueze and Williams Troost-Ekong propelled Nigeria to a 2-1 win over South Africa – their 4th win in 5 games at the tournament – and helped them advance to the last four of the tournament.
In his reaction after the game the FA Chairman said, “I wish to on behalf of Akwa Ibom State FA congratulate the Super Eagles on the victory over South Africa. It was a sweet victory and a thing of joy for all Nigerians. This qualification to the semi final has put smiles on the faces of Nigerians.
“The boys played well but it was a tough game considering the fact that our opponents South Africa is also a good team. The Super Eagles eliminated the defending champions Cameroon while the Bafana Bafana knocked out the hosts, so, it was a game between two top teams. We are grateful that we made it to the last four.
“I want to thank Nigerians for all their prayers and support for the national team and I wish to appeal to all Nigerians to keep supporting the team so we can come back with the trophy” the FA boss conclude.
The Super Eagles will face the winner between Algeria and Ivory Coast in the semi final of the competition for a place in the final. Nigeria are three times champions of the Africa Cup Of Nations following victories in 1980, 1994 and 2013.
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