By Abuchi Onwumelu
The Chairman, Anambra State Sports Development Commission, has pledged that Anambra State will back Mrs Oby Edoga-Solaja for re-election into the Board of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN).
Oli said this at the Commission’s Headquarters, when the former African Badminton champion paid him a courtesy call at the Ukwu Orji Office of the commission in Awka.
‘Badminton is one of the major individual sports that we have been identifying with as a commission, because of the potential it has offered us from the last National Sports Festival (NSF), Edo 2021.
‘We are also impressed that even though we did not win any medals from the sport; we now have four of our players favourably ranked at the national level.
‘This is also coming because of our own insider who has been working to support the reactivation and growth of the sport. For the first time, we made it into the quarterfinals of the festival after a long time.
‘We are also proud that Edoga-Solaja facilitated 30 rackets and shuttles to aid the Anambra State Badminton Association to revive the sport at the grassroots.’
Earlier, Edoga-Solaja, a South East representative in the last board of BFN, and former African champion, said she was driven by passion as a former player to explore ways of supporting the growth of the sport she loved and practiced up to the 1996 Olympics.
She said, ‘In addition, I want to inform you that I served on the immediate past board. We performed fairly well and I want to re-contest my position and therefore wish to enlist the support of the commission.
‘I was also recently honoured with an award of Woman in Badminton of the Year 2019, an honour that is unique, being the only Nigerian ever, to win it.
‘I am also Nigeria’s first badminton player to feature at the Olympic Games.
‘I was an African champion, as well as national women’s champion for years. And as a unique product of South East, I was discovered in the Old Anambra State in 1977 and was nurtured by retired Coach Uyanwa.’
She represented Anambra State at the Kaduna ’77; Oluyole ’79; and Edo ’81 National Sports Festivals, where she won gold and silver medals for Anambra State.
She was invited in 1980 to the national intermediate camp for the All Africa Juniors, in Mozambique.
Edoga-Solaja adds: ‘During my first tenure on the BFN Board, I distributed badminton equipment: rackets, nets and shuttles, to the five states in the zone in 2018.
‘And for the first time in years, South East badminton players were ranked nationally; this is because they attended the National competitions regularly.’
According to her, a South East mixed doubles pair is currently ranked number four in the country.
She noted that at the last Edo 2021 Festival, South East players reached the last 16 in mixed doubles.
She also noted that the South East could now boast of BCA-Accredited Umpires, a certificated National Umpires 1, Accredited National umpire.
‘I facilitated the donation of a Sienna Van to the Para Badminton players for ease of logistics by the Abia State Governor’s wife, in November, 2020.,’ she said.
The Anambra State Director of Sports, Faith Okwona, paid glowing tribute to Edoga-Solaja who was a household name during her playing days.
30 badminton rackets and shuttles were received from Edoga-Solaja by the chairman of the Commission, Oli.