Sports Writers Association of Nigeria has urged the Imo state Governor, Senator, Hope Uzodinma to look into the situation of Heartland FC and other sports generally in the state to halt its further sinking.
SWAN, Imo Chapter in a communiqué drafted at the end of an emergency meeting held recently to take a cursory look at the Development of sports In the Eastern Heartland noted with dismay the sinking nature of sports in the state and has called on Governor Uzodinma to fix the problem before it escalates.
Imo SWAN called the attention of the state government to the situation of the state darling team, Heartland FC who are presently in the relegation zone and urged Governor Uzodinma to convey a fact-finding mission committee to take stock of what Heartland FC needs to avoid a return to the lower league and what should be done to stop negative reports around the team.
The communiqué which was signed by the Chairman, Everest Ezihe stated in part:
“The body wants to urge the state Governor, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodimma to as a matter of urgency look into the issues surrounding our darling Heartland FC of Owerri.
“Your Excellency, if you have not been informed, the club is currently battling to survive relegation to the lower division. A concerted effort is needed to avoid this ugly development so that it won’t stain your record after your conscious efforts through your 3R/Shared Prosperity mantra to get Imo better.”
The body also admonished Imo Government to fix the playing surface of the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri which is overgrown by weeds and an uneven turf in order not to deny the home fans the chance and allure of watching their darling team, Heartland FC in Owerri if the League Management Company (LMC) listens to the outcry of football stakeholders who have faulted the continuous use of the turf for the team’s home games in the light of its current poor shape.
Imo SWAN also frowned at the deplorable welfare condition of Heartland FC, Heartland Comets, and Heartland Under 15 players who have been in the eye of bad press because of some administrative gaffe.
The union observed with dismay the pictures that flooded the internet some days back where Heartland FC senior players were allegedly thrown out of their hotel accommodation over unpaid debts while Heartland Comets and Heartland Under 15 teams have missed key league games and important scouting competition because of lack of funds.
The communique further reads: “Imo SWAN observed that the condition of the playing surface of the Dan Anyiam Stadium is very deplorable that it is even a disadvantage to Heartland FC while playing which reduces their chances of winning games and picking up points at home. The playing surface is overgrown with weeds and it is a hindrance to the free movement of the ball. The Association asks that the playing surface be rehabilitated to match the good works already done in the other sections of the main bowl.
“Imo Sports Writers found out that the camp where Heartland FC stays to strategize and lay their heads has also become a subject of ridicule based on the pictures that trended a few days ago online where players of the team were seen stranded outside the premises of a hotel as they were denied access into it barely moments after doing the state proud by picking three maximum points on that same day against Plateau United.
“Imo SWAN pleads that the camp and logistics of the team be fixed so that the players can be properly managed, their activities and movement are better tracked, and to always be in the right frame of mind to tackle each game as professionals. The body also urges Imo Government to provide an official car to the technical crew as it is not befitting for members of the technical crew to be seen hopping on public transport to attend training and home games.”
Imo SWAN also picked holes over the running of sports and coverage of sporting activities in the state in which the sitting Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Hon Dan Ogu has kept the Inion in the fark on the goings-on in sports in the state which has thus deprived Imo people the opportunity to get firsthand knowledge about the performance of their sports representatives because it is given less publicity.
“Imo SWAN noted with dismay the attitude of the Youth and Sports Commissioner, Hon Chike Dan Ogu towards members of the association in the area of media relations and charging him to make the necessary adjustment by according the body its statutory respect for the growth and development of sports in the Eastern Heartland,” the body’s communiqué further pointed out.
“The body also frowned at the ill reportage of the event of the state government in the area of Sports, taking into cognizance that it is the statutory duty of SWAN to report sports around the country. The Association expressed his surprise at the inability of the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Dan Ogu to convey a chat with the body in the past year to address members on the latest developments regarding facility upgrades and other sporting happenings in the state, rather he has decided to use his own unprofessional media aides to report to the public which has contributed immensely to the under reportage of sporting activities in the state.
“The very 1st edition of the National Para -Games in Abuja where the contingent from Imo placed 6th in the competition final table with 59 medals which consist of 16 gold, 25 silver, and 18 bronze medals was equally under-reported because SWAN was again sidelined and as such Imo people were robbed the opportunity of appreciating the para-athletes who did the state proud and were not giving full credit for their heroic and gallant outing.”
Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Imo Chapter also urged the state Government to beam its searchlight on the various sporting Associations which have gone almost moribund with exception of one or two sporting Associations due to the dissolution of the sports Associations by the Imo State Ministry of Sports. The body also frowns at the almost total neglect of other sports which have the potential of putting the state on the world map and the Association urges the Imo government to help motivate other sports and to ensure funds are available for them to attend competitions within and outside the state.