By Jude Atupulazi
The chairman of Anambra State Sports Development Commission, Mr Tony Oli, says the hosting of the 2020 Police Games by the Anambra State Government is aimed at providing facilities that will serve the sporting needs of the state in the long term.
The 2020 Police Games will be taking place in Anambra State from the 29th of February at designated centres across the state for a period of ten days.
Oli who spoke with Fides at Ekwueme Square, Awka where he was monitoring the progress of work ahead of the games, said the essence of hosting games of that magnitude was to compel the hosting country, state or community, to provide facilities that were not ordinarily for the games.
‘Take for instance we are building a 25 foot Olympic size swimming pool. So you see that the swimming pool we are doing will not be taken away after the police games. It will be here permanently. This will now make Anambra State the only state in the South East to have such size of Olympic swimming pool. This is a legacy project. The whole of South East is not well represented in swimming anytime we go for the National Sports Festival, because the facility to train the athletes is not there. We might not likely participate in swimming at this year’s National Sports Festival because it is just one month away from now. But the assurance is that by the next one in 2022, Anambra State, being a state that derives its name from River Omambala, will definitely be represented,’ Oli assured.
He said that all the infrastructural development taking place currently in parts of the state for the games would serve the state for the next ten years or more.
‘The most important thing here is that we are hopeful that this development will re-awaken sporting activities in the state. Who knows if the next best basketball player, footballer or swimmer, would come from Anambra State? The first thing is to provide the facilities and that is why His Excellency, Chief Dr Willie Obiano, has decided to have a long term projection of sporting activities in the state,’ Oli explained.
On the level of preparations, Oli said the state was psychologically and mentally ready, assuring that every game would be played at the stipulated date as everything had been done to close any gap before the stated date for the games, even as preparations for the opening ceremony had been concluded.
‘We have made provisions for the table tennis, long tennis and all the track events. Even the team events like football, cricket, volleyball, and handball, are 80% ready as I speak with you. The last game that would be coming up would be swimming and I must say that you have seen the process made so far and we are not relenting in our efforts till everything is fully equipped. That is what I mean by we are fully ready,’ the sports commission boss said.
On the choice of Ekwueme being among the centres, Oli said it was because the land space was not maximally utilized. He said what was taking place there was not just because of the Police Games but because the governor had already planned the development of Ekwueme Square long ago, meaning that what was going on now was merely the implementation of the plan of the governor.
Oli said that Ekwueme Square was designed to serve the functions of the Eagles Square at Abuja but would now serve more than that because it would be an arena for sporting activities, leisure, as well as official ceremonies.
‘Ekwueme Square is been repackaged by His Excellency to be more than a parade ground, such that it could be described as a games village,’ he said, noting that the only thing lacking at the square for international competitions was a tartan track.
‘I assure you that international competitions can be hosted here but notwithstanding we have a good number of games running here. So if you call it a games village you are not wrong; moreover a games village is where you have all the sporting activities. With that understanding we can confidently call Ekwueme Square a games village,’ Oli, who said that about 22 sporting events would take place at the games, stated.