By Henry Umahi
One sure way of keeping young people busy and out of the streets is through sports. While an idle, unskilled and unschooled youth is a time bomb waiting to explode, a successful youth in sports is a blessing to his community and generation. For instance, former Eagles football players, Justice Adokiye Amasiemeka, George Finidi and Skipper Joseph Yobo, Rivers State indigenes, remain models to many young people. While alive, they have been immortalised because of their contributions to the growth of society.
Fully conscious of this, Wike wisely made the development of sports in Rivers State one of his campaign promises. And when he got the people’s mandate, he decided to fulfill his promise, as a gentleman.
According to Wike, “sports is an avenue to raise young people with the right character and determination to be successful in life. In Rivers State, more than 50 per cent of the population falls within the age bracket where talents can be discovered, skills sharpened and dreams fulfilled through pragmatic nurturing, training and motivation. Football presents itself as one of the best possible ways of raising generations of young people with character and determination to achieve outstanding results and prosperity.”
Although Wike has made many interventions in sports development in Rivers State, unarguably the most outstanding is the Real Madrid Football Academy in Port Harcourt, which is aimed at exposing young people to the best that football can offer.
Indeed, Rivers State has never had it so good. With the Real Madrid Academy, football is now a one-stop institution in the state.
Wike is proud the state has produced international football stars in the past like Yobo, Finidi and Amasiemeka, among others, but sad that for some years now the state has had little or no impact in the naional football team, signifying football skills drought that needed urgent intervention.
Wike said: “I felt one of the ways is to ensure there is a football academy to train youths when they are very young and the best in terms of record, performance and achievements is Real Madrid. Real Madrid Football Academy was initiated to use football as a means to tranform the lives of young people.”
That was the genesis of the football academy, which Wike’s administration has shown utmost commitment to its success and ensured that pitches and administrative offices, hostels and classrooms were completed to give youths of Rivers State a more holistic career path.
Indeed, Wike has made significant investments in sports development in the state.