Ebonyi is ready to host matches involving the national teams as well as other competitions because it has the facilities to host such events, a state government official said on Saturday.
Charlse Akpuenika, the state’s Commissioner for Sports and Youth Development, said the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and other sports bodies should look the state’s way when taking decisions on hosting events.
“The facilities at the Pa Ngele Oruta Stadium are of international standard and the fans are very passionate about football and other sports events,’’ he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki.
“The players and officials who participated in the just-ended South-East/South-South Pre-Season Football Challenge gave eloquent testimonies about facilities at the stadium and we wish to draw NFF’s attention to this fact.
“We appeal to the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF to organise some of its engagements in the state and not concentrate on having most of national teams’ matches in one geo-political zone,” he added.
The commissioner urged the NFF to recall that a letter was sent to it by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) some time ago, asking it to come and inspect facilities at the stadium.
“We are eagerly waiting for NFF’s response on the invitation as we have better facilities than the stadiums which host national teams’ matches and other national sports competitions.
“The state government spent millions of Naira to renovate the stadium and other sports facilities in the state and we intend to put these facilities into good use.
“Facilities at the stadium have been upgraded and they include a good pitch, 500 KVA and 350 KVA stand-by generators for steady power supply, regular water supply, exquisite VIP stand, among others,” he said.
Akpuenika added that it was a blessing for the state to have produced the Senate Committee Chairman on Sports, Obinna Ogba.
He said the state was hopeful his influence would help to attract such matches and competitions to the state.
Patrick Ngwaogu, Coordinator of the South-East/South-South Pre-Season Football Challenge, supported Akpuenika’s contention, saying the stadium could host any competition.
“The stadium can host any type of tournament or competition, and I am confident that competitions such as the one we organised would let the world know that such a stadium exists in Abakaliki.
“Hosting of competitions in the stadium will also eliminate the apathy displayed by fans during the competition we hosted. That was one of our findings during the competition,” he said.
Adenrele Moses, the coach of Abia Warriors Football Club of Umuahia, one of the participants in the competition, described the Pa Ngele Oruta Stadium as impressive.
He urged the NFF to take steps to organise competitions in the stadium.
“I shouted when I first visited the stadium, because I was amazed by the state of facilities on ground.
“In fact, I feel that Ebonyi should float football clubs which would play their home matches at the stadium, so as to help draw the world’s attention to the opportunities the stadium provides,” the coach said.
NAN reports that Cynosure FC of Abakaliki defeated Abia Warriors 1-0 to win the pre-season competition.