By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The President of United Furniture Dealer’s Association of Nigeria, Emeka Egwuekwe, has asked the federal government and wealthy Nigerians to see sports as an effective tool for youth development, which has the capacity to serve as an impetus for social transformation and change.
Speaking at the end of the Enugu-Agidi Unity Cup sponsored by Prince Egwuekwe, tagged Apakata 2020, he stated that he was inspired to organize the football tournament as a means of engaging the youth and fostering unity in the community.
Egwuekwe who is also the Managing Director Of Prince Interior Furniture and Furnishing Company Limited, decried the spate of insecurity and kidnapping in the country, noting that it is time the youths are effectively engaged in productive ventures like sports.
According to him, “It is often said that sport has an inherent ability to bring people together, in particular the youth, and yet until recently, the tremendous potential of sport for development to achieve youth development objectives has been under utilized. By its very nature, sport encourages participation, bridging national, ethnic, social and religious divides. It is precisely for this reason that sport, when used as a tool for development, can serve as an impetus for social transformation and change.
“Sport for development aspires to achieve social impact by using sport, play and physical activity. Alongside its importance in the field of education, sport can also serve as a tool in areas of health promotion, HIV prevention, gender equality, violence prevention, conflict resolution, good governance, inclusion, and environment all of which are prime issues concerning young people today”, he added.
Prince Egwuekwe pointed out that “Sports Development Program (SDP) is focused on peace building and conflict resolution, creates an environment in which people can come together to work towards the same goal: show respect for others and share space and equipment.
“When utilized in a correct manner, sport enhances self-esteem and self-confidence and promotes responsible behavior. By taking part in sport, children and young people learn to manage victory as well as defeat. They acquire life skills that help them deal with challenging situations and improve their long-term prospects. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say sports for development initiatives could potentially contribute to peace building and conflict resolution.”
Prince Egwuekwe who is also the Apakata Onyi Mba Of Enugu-Agidi, said “sports for development programs not only create an awareness of the vulnerability experienced by young people, but also have an empowerment effect. They develop skills and knowledge necessary for young people to have more control of their lives and to function as responsible members of their communities.
“It is my firm belief that a thoroughly planned, carefully implemented, and rigorously evaluated SDP program centered on national, regional, or local development and peace priorities is a powerful answer to the various issues which concern youth development.”
Meanwhile, the Enugu-Agidi Unity Cup tournament that had the ten villages in the Community taking part with the Ifite Village winning the price money of N400,000, a gold cup and gold medals, according to Prince Egwuekwe, will be an annual event aimed at fostering peace and developing young talents who would be encouraged to pursue their football careers nationally and internationally.
Etiti village which came second in the tournament went home with a cash price of N250,000 and silver medals, while the third runners up Igbollo got N100,000 and a bronze medal and Iruobielli village was compensated with a cash of N100,000 for a match they could not play.
Other cash rewards were also given to the highest goal scorer and best goal keeper. A total of N3million was spent on the tournament which Prince Egwuekwe stayed would be bigger subsequently.