Last Sunday, November 6, Anambra Warriors, as Ifeanyi Ubah Football Club of Nnewi is called, clinched the Federation Cup when they prevailed over Nasarawa United FC, 5-4 on penalty shoot-out, following a goalless stalemate in regulation time at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos. That feat made it the first time a team from Anambra State would win the cup since the state's creation.
Expectedly, that victory has sparked off wild celebrations among football lovers in the state, with many others sending their congratulatory messages.
There is no doubt that football, more than any other sport, unites people across the world, and it is no different in Nigeria. Whenever victory is recorded therefore, emotions run high. That is what is happening now in the aftermath of the victory by FC Ifeanyi Ubah.
Indeed, FC Ubah's rise to prominence is quite a tale. Taken over from Gabros International by its proprietor, Dr Ifeanyi Ubah, less than three years ago, the club quickly made its mark in the country's elite division of the professional league by coming from a mid-table finish last two seasons to finish fourth just last season and now they have won the Federation Cup. This is no doubt, a meteoric rise.
This victory has brought Anambra to sporting limelight in Nigeria. For a state that used to boast of some of the best sporting talents in the country to have been in the doldrums for long, the victory of the Nnewi based team comes as a huge relief to soccer buffs in the state.
We commend the dogged spirit of the players in braving the odds to land this soccer diadem. We, in equal measure, commend the club proprietor, Dr Ubah, for his untiring efforts towards positioning football, not only in Anambra State, but in Nigeria. If, indeed, there is one man who has advanced the cause of football in the country, that man is Ifeanyi Ubah.
In this vein, we recall the recent historic signing of an agreement with West Ham FC of England, whereby the English club will be grooming talents from here in partnership with FC Ubah. We are therefore happy to have such a man as a citizen of Anambra State.
He has also built a stadium in Nnewi which hosts his team, making the club the first and only one in the country to have their own stadium.
However, as the dust settles on the victory of the club, it is noteworthy to remind football authorities in the state that the task of developing football here requires their support. This is because, after several years of pleading with individuals and corporate bodies to invest in football in the state, Ifeanyi Ubah has come to the rescue, doing what government could not do.
Now he has done it, it behoves government to render all possible assistance to the club, especially as it gets set to represent the country in next year's Confederation Cup. The government has to sit down and talk with officials of the club on ways of assisting it. The club may be owned by an individual but the glory it has just earned has become that of the state.
Apart from this, government should provide conducive environment for budding talents to hone their skills and mature into future stars. This can be done by the building of more sports facilities across the state, including football academies, as well as encouraging and rewarding outstanding sports people. This may come in the form of scholarships to recognised talents.
When the youths are gainfully engaged in sports, they will channel their energies to positive things, rather than to crime and society will be the better for it.
Once more, we offer our congratulations to FC Ifeanyi Ubah and Dr Ifeanyi Ubah.