Anambra Sports Community Opposes Conversion of Awka Stadium to Leisure Park
Sports enthusiasts in Awka, the capital of Anambra state, have called on Governor Chukwuma Soludo to upgrade the Awka township stadium by delivering a complete stadium with facilities for all association games.
The enthusiasts made the call as Soludo commenced work on the second section of the stadium. They stated that the Awka township stadium was the only sporting arena in the entire capital city and should be improved upon rather than being converted to a tourism or leisure site.
Victor Nwangu, a veteran sports administrator, commended the government of Anambra for the Awka township stadium, which has become the epicenter of football activities in the state as it hosts many national football competitions. He noted that it is essential to maintain all standards so that it can host international competitions.
These standards include increasing the sitting capacity from the current 1,000 to a minimum of 5,000, installing floodlights and conveniences, and ensuring the completion of the Park A section, which currently hosts Nigeria Professional Football League, Nationwide League, and other national games.
Nwangu advised that Park A section should be brought up to standard before moving into the B-section, as it may result in abandoning the progress made and allowing the installed facilities to decay. He also stressed the importance of building facilities for the 19 association games in the stadium and completing them in phases until the stadium is complete.
Nwangu emphasized that amusement and leisure parks are not association sports, but recreational facilities that are provided for in the master plans of cities and communities.
Tony Nezianya, a veteran sports journalist and the current Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, said the overflow of the existing grandstand at Awka township stadium during Rangers Int’l matches was an indication that sports was becoming popular among residents.
He advised Governor Soludo to take advantage of the growing spirit of sports in Anambra to build a sports economy. Nezianya described sports as a multi-million dollar business and money spinner that could lift athletes and their families from penury to affluence. He urged the government to build facilities for other sports, such as a standard track, cricket oval, basketball, tennis, volleyball, tennis courts, indoor sports hall, and others.
The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Anambra chapter, while commending Soludo for resuming work at the Awka stadium, opposed the idea of converting it to an amusement and leisure park. The chairman of SWAN in the state, Anthony Oji, described the move as an attempt to render the teeming Anambra athletes and the entire sporting community homeless.
He emphasized that the stadium was for sports, and there was much left to be done to make the Awka stadium a sports arena befitting a state that had a rich tradition in sports like Anambra.
In response, Christian Aburime, Press Secretary to Soludo, said the governor was not converting the stadium to a leisure park. He explained that only the vast undeveloped area within the stadium would be used for the recreational park, which was meant to create tourism ambiance in Awka. Aburime stated that the government was trying to build a megacity with good tourism facilities so that residents and visitors could have a place to go and relax. He clarified that the stadium remains as it is and will not be converted to an amusement park.