Victor Nwangu, a veteran sports administrator, has tasked Gov. Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra on sports development, urging him to give equal attention to sports like other sectors in the state.
Nwangu, a member of Old Rangers International FC Players Association and a long term secretary of Anambra FA said this when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka in Wednesday.
He said that the state needed a new paradigm in sports and expressed surprise that Soludo has yet to make public pronouncement on sports development.
“Sport is crucial as leisure, business, fitness activities, crime control measure and public relations enterprise for government.
“I expect that Soludo who looks athletic and fit should pay attention to sports as a matter of serious urgency, for some of us who have been around in the administration of sports in Anambra, we want a paradigm shift.
“Government has a responsibility to develop the best talents in all sectors including sports, we are known for our athleticism and contributions to sports, the state occupies a pride of place in Nigerian sports.
“I think the governor is distracted, he has done a number of things, but he has not mention sports interestingly, sports can be used to handle the distractions like insecurity effectively, everybody loves sports either as a spectator or an active participant,” he said.
Nwangu said it was abnormal that the state has no state owned football club, 31 years after its creation, saying that state owned clubs have helped created identity for most states in the country.
He said the private sector had driven sports especially football in the state but added that all of them have gone defunct like their peers elsewhere.
Nwangu said Nigeria was not yet ripe for private sector led sports development.
“Individuals who tried to drive sports failed, not just in Anambra but across the country, we had Abiola Babes FC which was the greatest at a time, Stationary Stores FC, Julius Berger FC and others but they are all defunct now.
“In Anambra, the private sector has always driven sports, we had Udoji FC, we had Jasper United FC, Gabros United FC and recently FC Ifeanyi Ubah, they are all defunct now with many grassroots clubs, so it is not easy for the private sector to drive sports.
“Across Nigeria, all the clubs that are thriving over the years are government owned, some states have more than one club, Rangers FC for instance has been there for decades.
“The question is, why is the Anambra case different? Some people are just being too idealistic; they fail to understand the difference between Nigerian environment and developed countries where sports run itself,” he said.
He added: “There is no club anywhere in this country that you won’t find Anambra indigenes, we can firm five clubs that can comfortably do exploit simultaneously, do we need a paradigm shift where government should have an eye on sports.
“Some states have basketball clubs, handball clubs traveling around the country and Africa playing games and gaining exposure, families have been liberated from poverty as a result of these government investments.
“So the governor should come up with a robust policy on sports development in its entirety, we need a state owned club, the last government has it a mention and even gave us the name but it never took off.”