By; KENNETH ORUSI, Asaba
The Delta State Government, headed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has given its consent to one of the peace moves geared towards securing peaceful coexistence among the Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic nationalities in the riverine part of the state.
The popular Ijaw/Itsekiri Peace and Unity Cup, a sports competition aimed at establishing a lasting peace and good neigbourliness among the communities, initiated by Comrade Sheriff Mulade, got the attention of the state government.
Chairman, Delta State Sports Commission, Chief Tonobok Okowa, who played host to the Hon. Ken Nwamuocha-led Local Organizing Committee (LOC), said the football competition has generated great awareness in the state particularly in the communities.
All is now set for the grassroots football competition’s second and 2019 edition in the riverine region to kick off.
In his welcome remarks, Chief Okowa commended the hard work and dedication of the members of the committee towards having a successful championship.
“We acknowledge the huge awareness and keen interest that the Ijaw/Iteskiri peace and unity cup, Football Competition has generated in the state and country at large.
“I want to commend the brain behind the tournament, Comrade Sheriff Mulade for his commitment towards grassroot developmental football and sustaining it over the years”.
The seasoned sport administrator further emphasized the desire of the present administration led by governor Ifeanyi Okowa in using sports as a tool to unite, empower and expose youths in the state to become self reliance and independent.
“The Delta State government is interested in any project that seeks to develop the game in the state, and we thank you for this stride, while counting on your continuous good working relationship with us, the state sports commission will always keep our doors open to support you, so please feel free to always count on us for any form of assistance in ensuring you have a hitch free tournament”.
Responding, Hon. Nwamucha, the LOC Chairman, asserted that the Sheriff Mulade Ijaw/Itsekiri peace and unity cup 2019 team was grateful to the state sports commission for its support.
He stated that the tournament as usual would draw participants from the two ethnic tribes living along the coastal region of the state, the ijaws and the Itsekiris with the main aim of engaging the youths so as to pull their minds aways from negative vices that would disrupt the peaceful coexistence already being enjoyed in the area.
“The official endorsement by the Delta State sports commission, for this year’s edition is testament that Nigerians should expect nothing but the best in terms of grassroot football. We can only but pledge to abide by the rules of the games, in terms of officiating and players’ conduct”.
He further charged intending teams to go to the various locations where they could get the forms and register to enable them participate in the tournament.
On his part, the organizer and National Coordinator, Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), Comrade Sheriff Mulade, thanked the sports commission Chairman, for his support for the competition.
“Getting the nod and support for any football competition by the sports commission is not a ride in the park. Indeed, the sports commission subjects initiatives of this kind to close scrutiny to ensure that the concept of grassroot developmental football, which the body is passionate about, is truly met.
“This is the secound edition, and one can only predict that it will wax stronger, as I urge participating teams to always remember the idea behind the competition, which is living in peace with one another in other to attract meaningful development to the area”.
He revealed that registration and sales of forms for the competition is currently on, stressing that Intending teams could visit any of the locations to pick up their forms.
The tournament would kick off on the 16th of November 2019, as two centers Ugborodo and Benikrukru would host the 16 teams.