Enugu Marks Int’l Olympic Day to Celebrate Young Athletes

Enugu Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu and athletes

Enugu State, at the weekend, joined the rest of the world to mark this year’s International Olympic Day, with the state’s Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu, admonishing the youth to actively participate in various sporting programmes that would prepare them to win laurels in the future Olympics, reiterating the determination of the Dr. Peter Mbah Administration to reposition the state as the premier sports hub in Nigeria and Africa.

The event organised by the state government took place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.

Barr. Ekweremadu explained that for the state, the 2024 Olympic Day event was a celebration of peace, sports excellence, creating awareness about the forthcoming Olympic Games, and drumming up support for Miss Lucy Ejike, who would represent Nigeria at the coming Paralympics.

Enugu Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu and athletes
Enugu Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu and athletes

The Commissioner, who described sports as a huge business, equally charged the younger generations to consider sports as a veritable avenue to put the state and Nigeria on the global map for good reasons.

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He explained various initiatives introduced by Governor Peter Mbah-led administration to develop grassroots sports, saying that athough they were at the rebuilding phase, the initiatives would produce more world-class athletes that would represent the state in local and international tournaments , including future Olympic Games.

“The World Olympic Day Celebration here in Enugu is for us a celebration of peace and sports excellence and creating awareness. This is especially so since we have one of our own, Lucy Ejike, who will be representing Nigeria in power-lifting.

“Enugu is the home of sports excellence in Nigeria, and then most recently, Rangers International of Enugu won the NPFL title and getting ready to represent Nigeria on the continental stage. So, we are just sending that message that we are still here and that we will continue to be here, not just as home for sports excellence, but also sports stories in Nigeria,”

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He, however, said the administration was posed to do more.

“Just last week, after the State Executive Council Meeting, we had the privilege to announce that the Council had approved the revamping of various recreation parks across Enugu city for a start; and each park will feature sporting facilities, including five-aside pitches, basketball courts, and the tennis courts to allow for more opportunities for people to exercise their talents and give us a larger pool to select from .

“So, we have huge ambition and targets that we have set for ourselves, and we are more concerned with meeting those targets. We are more concerned that we build grassroots sports. We are more concerned that we deliver on new sporting facilities in the state. And we are also concerned that we host the 2026 National Sports Festival,” he concluded.

A member of the Umuaka Chinemerem Volleyball Club, Miss Odinakachukwu Ikegbue, expressed confidence that Enugu young athletes would rule future Olympics, given the mentality of the present administration towards sports development.

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“What makes players perform is their mindset, their spirit and their soul. Every player I know that trains in this stadium, especially for volleyball, is very prepared and focused. All we just need is the support of the state. Since the state government has decided to support us with equipment, infrastructure, and motivation, I believe we will do a lot of exploits,” she stated.

Speaking on behalf of the Zenith Skating Team, Master Elias Ijenu recalled, “We participated in a competition organised by the Skaters Federation in Calabar and came back with an outstanding result. We believe that collaborating with the state government based on sponsorship, we are going to make the state and our nation proud.

Meanwhile, the theme for this year’s Olympic Day celebration was “Let’s Move and Celebrate.”