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I am no blind believer in political propaganda, in fact I loathe it, I do not even give a second thought to it, but there are sometimes I have to rethink my stand on some issues; especially if such issues concerns development. Recently I stumbled on an argument by a classmate criticising the ratio decidendi behind the construction of the Eket stadium.

In London alone, there are 22 stadia and football has become a big tourism earner for England, Now I was careful to mention London alone, not mentioning other places like Buckingham, New Castle, etc. One English city, 22 stadia of play although many of these stadia are used mainly for football, with the least capacity holding up to 5,000 persons in one sitting; this data as it stands does not include other indoor sport facilities and gymnasiums.

Here I am facing my friend in Akwa Ibom debating on the need to rebuild a stadium for Eket L.G.A., his strong point of argument is that the government should have used the money to build a skills acquisition centre or another industry. For the record, sports are both a skill and an industry.

In a candid opinion, I think that the people of Akwa Ibom need to first of all consider that sports is a wealth creating venture, the value chain in sports does not end. Let me begin by looking at the market strength of sports. Consider this if there is a facility to host a sporting event, it will be easier for bodies and organisations to host tourneys and championships.

Whenever a tourney comes up like such, everyone seems to benefit, the host makes money from ticket sales, the vendors make money from selling gear and medals, the athletes make money from the winnings at the tourney, transporters make money in fare and other rental services… other goods and services are exchanged for money during a sporting event. Sports on its own is engaging, so one can say an hour and a half spent to see a football game is a time to bond with friends, even make new ones.

What we had as Eket stadium before was just a football field and popular stand. The new stadium will include dress room, backrooms for weight lifting and boxing, a long jump sand dune, laid track for races, crane-set for tele-screen, a side pitch for volleyball and storage facilities.

The truth is that, this time one needs to see the more sports evolve other than just football. Personally I do not have a problem with football, though I play occasionally, I still have an inclination to opt for track events if I may be made to choose.

I can play volleyball, I can play badminton, I can play basketball, I can run track, I have thrown a discus, and you could understand how I get so frustrated whenever I see a stadium with only a football pitch and nothing more. I am not a prolific footballer so I may not be the first to be picked in a football game, and due to lack of other facilities I will kill my interest to play any sport.

Eket sport stadium, I think will help develop more sporting events in the area and just maybe another club can gain promotion into the National league. As one of the criterion for allowing a club into the league is the availability of a home playing pitch.

Outside this, a stadium despite being used for sporting events can be used as an arena for mobilisation, for concerts, for church programmes, etc. as it stands, in the near future people can always use this stadium as an event centre.

The challenge I have with the political sphere in Akwa Ibom is that the opposition will criticise the government of the day without showcasing the benefits of the any project, and on the hand the government may not see anything good in the criticism of the opposition.

Are there pecks with this project that will benefit the future? Yes! Are there things that need to be clarified? Yes!

The argument of my friend was that the stadium at Uyo is sufficient and one can always pay money to Uyo if he needs a stadium facility. My own argument is this, there are factories in Onna too, there are also skills acquisition centres in Uyo. If one could calculate the accumulation of resources from sports people to and fro the stadium in Uyo for let’s say a five year period, that will be enough budget to build a mini stadium of its own.

Writes from Adadia, Uruan

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