By the Editor.
The ongoing Ebonyi governor’s cup competition has lived up to its billing, attaining the standard set for it and meeting the expectations upon which it was conceived.
The competition was approved by the youthful, ebullient and pragmatic State Governor, Rt.Hon Francis Nwifuru as part of his desire to return sports to its bridled place in the state’s scheme.
The governor realises the importance of sports in enhancing the well-being of youths and providing the avenue for them to achieve their life ambitions with their God-given talents.
The competition which commenced on July 29, has produced several exhilarating soccer artistries, breath-taking goals and evidence that untapped soccer talents abound in Ebonyi.
However, the most noticable development which gladdens the heart is the sheer fervour and enthusiasm displayed by Chairmen of the 13 Local Government Areas of the state, participating in the competition.
During the opening ceremonies, many thought that it would be business as usual of apathy towards sporting events in the state, but it turned out to be a spectacle of excitement as mobilisation was top notch.
The two chairmen of Ezza North LGA and Edda LGA who were the defending champions, led the arsenal of supporters to the Pa Ngele Oruta stadium Abakaliki, venue of the competition.
Chief Moses Ogodo-Ali Nome and Hon. Chima Ekumankama were present at the stadium and showed unbridled passion more than the players themselves.
Both chairmen even shouted instructions to the players in fists of passion and had the ‘immortal’ pep talks on the players, at the break.
After the goalless affair, Ogodo Ali danced like a man who won lottery, to the melodious tunes of the council’s band. Hear him.
“We are happy to hold the defending champions to a standstill. This shows that the cup is coming to Ezza North,”
But his words on the competition sumarised the excitement among the chairmen:
“We are happy that real soccer has returned to the state. This is the first time in a long while that people of the state will gather at our stadium to celebrate football, to be bound together and renew our bonds as brothers through sports,”
Chima Ekumankama was no less enthusiastic. He rallied round his wards and offered encougement, though he rued the officiating which “denied my team, victory,”.
“We are still the defending champions and have become the envy and target of others. Officiating or not, our opponents knew that they played with lions,”.
Supporting Ogodo-Ali’s assertion, he said, “The governor had done well in making the LGAs come together in a happy affinity.
“This competition will achieve its aim of discovering young talents that would be groomed to make the state proud regionally, nationally and internationally,”
Hon. Emmanuel Ajah, the Chairman of Ivo LGA stationed free buses to take supporters to Abakaliki to watch the match between the council and Onicha LGA. The move worked. The massive support helped in beating Onicha 2-0. His presence buoyed his players and he offered them gifts at the end of the match especially his impressive goalkeeper.
“We are happy with this result and as we strive to win the cup, we assure the state that Ivo is the nest of talents which the state can tap anytime,”
Even the female folk were not left out. Mrs Euphemia Nwali, Chairman of Ezza South LGA like a kind hearted mother, supported her ‘children when they engaged Ohaoazara LGA.
She petted her wards even after losing 0-1 and encouraged them to do better in subsequent fixtures. In her words, “You will definitely be rewarded on making our dear LGA proud,”.
The real spectacle of passion was shown when Afikpo confronted Izzi LGA. The match was so fierce on the pitch and extended to the bench. The two chairman nearly let tempers off
The match ended 1-2 in favour of the governor’s home LGA Izzi. Hon. Uche Nnajiofor Ibiam, the Chairman of Afikpo North LGA, fumed all through on the bench. The referee was again, the problem.
“This is not what we expected. A match that was meant to be enjoyed and the referee has messed it up. It is shame,”.
At the end of the match, he went to see his players. But the gyrating studs of triumphant Izzi bellowed not far off. The Izzi LGA chairman, Hon. Stephen Nwankpa made towards where Nnajiofor adressed his players. He saw him, coming and ‘got ready’.
But his fellow chairman ad friend, Nwankpa sought an embrace, he obliged and both embraced to roaring cheers.
Nnajiofor quickly disengaged from him, “You know you didn’t win this match. You saw what happened,”. But his rejoicing colleague answered’: “Bros, this is football. Congratulate the better side,”
As we expect more passionate fervour in this high-class competition, a call on the organisers to look at the officiating.