2020 Police Games: the thrills, jeers and cheers

Posted by News Express | 10 March 2020 | 1,523 times

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•Participants during the recent 12th biennial Police Games in Anambra

By PAMELA EBOH, Awka 

The 12th biennial Police Games hosted in about eight venues in Anambra State have come and gone but not without some thrills, cheers and jeers that laced the seven days non-stop ground-breaking fiesta. The event, which kicked off on Saturday, February 30, 2020 with a lively opening ceremony at Ekwueme Square was declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi.

The President urged the athletes to be good ambassadors of the Police Force by being in their best behaviour while commending the state governor, Willie Obiano, for his benevolence and hosting of the games in the state.

The Governor on his part hailed the police hierarchy for accepting the gesture to have the games in Anambra State saying that sports has played a major role in bringing people together.

He said that the idea of hosting the National Police Games in Anambra State was born out of the fact that the state in the past held sway in sporting activities in the country even as he added that the hosting of the games would rake in about N1.5 billion to the state economy because of the influx of visitors and the subsequent business boom.

Obiano said: “Sports has the power to change and unite people. At such times, our differences disappear. Anambra State has an excellent status in sports and that makes the hosting of the games here a great one.”

THE THRILLS

The 2020 Police Games was the first big national sports fiesta to be held in the state since its creation, hence it created an atmosphere for evening entertainment of some sort for the residents. Though most residents of Awka, the state capital, were disappointed that football games were taken to far away Otuocha, it was a huge thrill for the locals in Otuocha area as it gave them the opportunity of seeing sports stars in the likes of Chioma Ajunwa and other ex-police players that has made names in the round leather game at close range as well as a selfie opportunity.

In the area of athletics, the track queen, Mary Onyali was a charm to behold as soon as spectators were made aware that she was the popular Anambra-born queen of the track of yester years on her arrival at Ima Event center during the Taekwando games. That knowledge drew admirers to her for a selfie which she humanely obliged with a smile.

The police games which brought about 3,600 athletes from 12 police zones and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) attracted many spectators from within Anambra State who had come to cheer the athletes in various games like handball, volleyball, judo, wrestling, taekwondo, athletics, football, etc. People also moved about from venue to venue to watch athletes display their act to the admiration of spectators without fear of molestation or kidnap as the state was well secured, having been adjudged the safest state in Nigeria.

The usual pick pocketing and bag snatching that is prevalent at such games was not experienced or heard of. Apart from the total transformation of the Ekwueme Square which had the handball, volleyball, basketball pitches as well as a new swimming pool, the roads in the state were lit up with luxurious buses adorning the 2020 Nigeria Police games banner.

It was also a time of brisk business for the “mama put” as their bukas bubbled with influx of customers at the different venues, especially Rojenny Stadium in One where the track and field events took place.

THE JEERS

Just like every lather has a bubble, there are some ugly sides to every sporting fiesta. There were suspicions of some athletes competing under the influence of enhancing drugs and without any formal test process in the Olympics, they were not detected. For example, a used syringe was seen lying in the gutter just by the entrance to Oma Event Center. Also some athletes were seen secretly taking substances that could not be explained. On the other, people were hopeful that the games was an opportunity for the state government to build a mini stadium in Awka where all the sporting activities would take place simultaneously.

Unfortunately, that hope was dashed as the government rather went with the option of having the venues scattered in different areas of the state. Apparently, the police games would attracted more spectators and football enthusiasts if the games were hosted in one venue. For instance, Rojenny Stadium, though far away from the capital city, Awka, drew a relatively good crowd that thronged out to watch the athletics competition. The place was a beehive of activities and had more aura of a games village, not with the food vendors all over with all manner of eatables.

THE CHEERS

Top on the cheers ladder is the fact that the games came and ended without any security hitches. This alone has gone a long to prove that Anambra State is indeed a bit safe place to be in any day, any time. The Anambra residents had the opportunity of meeting some of their idols one on one while new talents were discovered.

Moreover, the state now has a beautiful Olympic-size swimming pool. Even the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. John Abang, the Chairman, Anambra State Sports Development Commission, Chief Tony Oli, had a 100m swim to entertain both athletes and the spectators. The swimming pool which was still under construction at the kick-off of the games was a surprise meal to be cooked as people had written it off as a caricature, but the state government pulled the strings and came out with a beautiful edifice to the applause and praise of people.

In his reaction, the Chairman, Police Athletics Association, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Zubairu Mu’azu, described the 2020 Nigeria Police Games in the state as the best ever in the history of the games. He reiterated that the primary target of organising the games was to set new standards, stressing that such goal had been achieved.

“I make bold to say that we have achieved the purpose of organising the competition in almost all the games,” he added. He applauded the state government for the successful hosting, just as he commended the people of the state for their hospitality and cooperation.

On his part, Commissioner of Police, INTERPOL, Garba Umar, said the biannual competition was a platform provided by the Force to fish out talents capable of representing the country both at the national and international fiestas. The former Anambra State CP who doubles as Chairman, Football Association for the Nigerian Police and Security Adviser to the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) said invitations were extended to various football clubs across the country to the games to hunt for talents.

His words: “Nigerian Police team has come of age and we have enough footballers including the likes of Julius Aghaghowa and Mary Onyeali. At the end of the competition, we’re sure to get those to represent the country.” The Local Organising Chairman, LOC, CP John Abang while responding to questions from journalists expressed joy that the games went well as planned. “I am happy for the success the police pulled off here and the governor, Willie Obiano, for making the state available as the host state. It is a success story. I cannot be an umpire in my own game, but I am satisfied with the turnout of events and people can see for themselves.”

At the end of the games, the Federal headquarters took the first position with one hundred and 18 gold medals, 80 and 76 bronze, zone two trailed behind with 83 gold medals 85 silver and 62 bronze while zone 11 came third with 53 gold, 48 silver and 55 bronze medals. Sadly enough, the host zone, zone 9 took the sixth position. Appears the FHQ winning streak may still linger as they came as defending champions and maintained the lead yet again.

In the words of Governor Obiano, “We have done our homework well, come and be part of the history. Indeed, kudos to Obiano and the foot soldiers, the home work was well done and Anambrarians were part of the history.”

 

 

 


Source: By PAMELA EBOH, Awka

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