Amaju Pinnick has never been this exhausted, not even when he was preparing Delta’s team for the last National Sports Festival which Delta won sensationally in Lagos.
Then his directors, fellow Delta State Sports Commission board members and aides went around training camps ensuring that the coaches were up and doing. His job then was simply to prepare the Delta team. It is different in Warri where he has been leading the Local Organising Committee for the Africa Youth Athletics Championships that will end on Sunday.
In Warri, Amaju is not only in charge of organisation but also in charge of all the countries that are in Nigeria for this maiden edition of a championship that Confederation of Africa Athletics, CAA, hopes will contribute in boosting athletics in the continent.
Africa did not excel at the London Olympics in track and field. The entire continent could only win seven gold medals. And it was decided that youth competitions would help in taking the sport back to schools and communities where athletes can be discovered young. And one way of doing this was to begin a continental youth competition.
Interestingly, Warri bided to host the first edition on behalf of Nigeria and CAA gladly awarded the hosting rights to Nigeria and Athletics Federation of Nigeria.
Amaju heads sports in Delta, the most outstanding state in sports development in Nigeria. He gets all the support from a sports loving governor in Emmanuel Uduaghan, himself a sports man. He plays Squash Racket and Tennis but has more passion for tennis, a sport he once played to top level in the old BendelState.
”Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan is driving this because he feels it will also help the state develop sports in a way,” Amaju says of the funds that the governor has provided for the hosting of the championship called AYAC Warri 2013. Most of the athletes representing Nigeria in this championship are from Delta.
The facilities upgraded for the event will benefit Delta, the equipment Delta bought for it will serve the state and the goodwill AYAC 2013 will bring to Warri cannot be quantified especially after the state presented one of the best facilities for the FIFA Under 17 World Cup in 2009 but was denied hosting rights on security grounds.
Uduaghan made reference to this while inaugurating the LOC for AYAC Warri 2013 and charged them to organise a befitting championship that Africa would be proud of. Aminata Gueye, head of marketing in CAA admits some minor challenges but scores the organisation highly.
”We are doing our best to live up to the expectation of our amiable governor and the expectations of CAA and those of all the countries here in Warri,” Amaju says here. He has worked to raise money to support the grant from the state government. Zenith Bank, Delta State Oil and Gas Producing Company, DESOPADEC are among the sponsors that have complemented the government efforts.
Uduaghan’s vision is to use the instrumentality of sports to develop infrastructure, human capital and peaceful coexistence. He has been encouraging youths to take to sports and assures them that his government would always help them develop their potential and future career. He is not only in developing sports in the state but also the entire country and says that AYAC Warri 2013 could help the Athletics Federation of Nigeria led by Solomon Ogba groom talents to stardom. He says it’s same for all the African countries here in Warri.
”This a development programme conceived by CAA to help African athletes soar and I’m sure it could be the springboard for many of them in their transition to greater heights,” he says of the competition here in Warri. Amaju is not only interested in organising a good event. He, like Uduaghan, is looking at how the state would benefit from the show that has brought up to 28 African countries in the city of Warri.
”When we hosted a sports summit in Asaba October 30 last year, the high point of the whole thing centred on youth development. In a way, this is part of the implementation of the report of that summit. Our youths are in the team. Those not in the team will be influenced to engage in sports having watched interesting scenes here and very importantly are the equipment and facilities that we have acquired for the hosting this in Delta. As at Wednesday, 430 people had been accredited, many of them foreigners. There are technical personnel from Holland, Belgium who are from Timetronics and we have technical officials and the CAA family from other parts of the continent that are here. And so far, its been hitch-free. This is, therefore, boosting the image of the city and perhaps tourism. The state is better for it.”
For the first time, Estimated Distance Measurement, EDM, will be used in Nigeria courtesy Delta State Government. And the equipment is from Timetronics, the best in the world for now. The timing and distance measurement device will ensure accurate recording devoid of use of tape.
After AYAC 2013, the Awoturo Eleaya Cup will commence in DeltaState. It is a competition that is designed to fish out talents from the communities and local areas because it starts from the ward levels to Local Government, Senatorial Levels and State final in Sapele. Competitions will be held at these levels and there will be a data base for all the outstanding athletes that will be discovered. Coaches will be assigned to train them from time to time and a programme for development will commence. Delta is also doing the same for football. The Governor’s Cup is at the semifinal stage.
Outstanding ones have already been selected for holiday programmes that will eventually transform into football academies.
”It is part of our human capital development. We will help talents achieve their potentials and possibly take up careers in sports. One day oil will stop flowing and Nigeria will have to look for other sources of income. Our plan is not to be taken unawares in DeltaState, so we are thinking of Delta beyond oil. Sports could be one of the areas that could hugely employ people and that’s why we are taking it seriously,” Uduaghan repeatedly says in sports venues. He is practising what he is preaching. The sports programmes in
DeltaState are speaking for him.