By Steve Unegbu
Abia state government is a sports loving government and is committed to supporting the development of sports in the state.
This was made known by the wife of Abia state Governor, Deacones Nkechi Ikpeazu during the Ist chief Chijioke Nwakodo memorial secondary school chess competition held at the Indoor Sports Hall Umuahia Township stadium.
Mrs Ikpeazu who was represented by her chief press secretary, Mazi Chika Ojiegbe, said Abia state is proud of her exploits in sports, urging that the same attention given to football should be extended to other sports.
She described Chess game as a mental game which helps one to develop his brain and prepares the person for every day living ,even as she encouraged students to take the game seriously to enable them qualify for national and international competitions.
Mrs Ikpeazu described late Chief Chijioke Nwakodo as a humble and cerebral person ,who contributed immensely to the growth of chess game in the state, while applauding the Abia state Chess association members and the players of the game for their contributions towards the development of the chess game in Abia state.
In speech, the Abia state commissioner for Youth ,sports and social Development, Hon.Chief Emeka Ikwugwu,who was represented by the Abia state Director of Sports, Sir Isaac O Isaac, said the Abia state ministry of sports is working hard to develop sports right from the grassroots, noting that over the years, sports have done Abia state proud.
He harped the need to encourage chess game in the state, pointing out that, ” we should do everything possible to encourage the girl that has made Abia state proud in chess competition at the national level and will encourage her to go far in playing the game “
As the Director of Sports he, restated his readiness to encourage students to be involved in sports in the state and to go beyond the shores of the country in playing the game, as well as take their education seriously ,even as he said that the sports Council needs vehicle to enable them hunt for talented players in the rural area .
In his remarks, the chairman of Abia state Chess association,comrade Kelechi Imeoria, who was represented by comrade Ochea Idika , disclosed that Abia state chess association instituted the secondary school chess competition to improve Abia state students’ skills in strategic thinking and planning.
He revealed that Abia state team in chess has done tremendously well in the national youth games winning in 2017 ,2018 and 2019 respectively.
He urged the coaches and administrators to leverage on the competition to select athletes that will carry the flag of Abia state to the national youth games chess in 2020 and other competition,while urging the participating schools and athletes, to play by the rules of the games ,compete in fair play and demonstrate the spirit of sportsmanship at the competition, adding that there must be a winner and a looser in any game, even as he urged the organizing committee members to officiate according to the detects of the games of chess .
Earlier on his speech, the chairman of the occasion, Hon. Coach Victor Nwakanma, enjoined students who play the game of chess to be committed, describing them as blessed and great people while commending their parents for encouraging them.
He pointed out that chess is a game that can expose anyone who plays it, urging that they should take it seriously and not to loose the gift God has given them,while promising that the Comet football club will continue to support Chess game development in Abia state
Addressing the Newsmen after receiving an award from Abia state chess association, the founder of Abia state Comet football club, Hon .Nwakanmna thanked the association for remembering the little support he gave them and decided to honour him.
According to him, ” If you are not intelligent, you can not play this game. People do not know that there is million in chess game.
He lamented the poor state of the sporting facilities in the state saying there is need to maintain them while appealing to the state government and other stakeholders to support and encourage the growth of sports in the state.
Meanwhile the first female winner of the Ist chief Chijioke Nwakodo memorial secondary school chess competition is from Federal girls government college Umuahia ,while the first position male is from Santa Cruz Olokoro and some of the awardees include the wife of the governor, the Director of sports, chairman of the Abia sports Council among others.
In her closing remark , the secretary of Abia state Chess association, Madu Maria Joshua ,thank God for the success of the competition and thank the Abia state Governor Dr Okezie Ikpeazu for sponsorship, even to the chairman of their association comrade Kelechi Imeorie,for advice ,financial support ,also the Director of sports and his management team ,the officiating committee, teachers and students for their contributions to the success of the competition .