The sports facilities inspection visit to Imo State by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to assess the preparedness of the state to host the National Sports Festival in 2022 was concluded on Saturday, March 7.
The visit is part of the due diligence process established by the Ministry in 2007, for the main purpose of evaluating the readiness of prospective host state for this national flagship sports programme.
It is fashioned after that of the Olympic Games and carried out by the relevant body of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Unarguably, while hosting an event may not be an end in itself, it no doubt, provides an unrivalled opportunity to deliver on some capital projects because of immovable deadlines, which must be met.
It is this condition that irrevocably infuses a work discipline characteristics of professionalism at all levels of competence in the Host City, State or Country.
The National Sports Festival is the biggest single sports programme that attracts national attention and, of course, physical presence of participants from across different strata of audience, especially of business and tourism. Hosting guarantees intense media exposure and local engagement with citizens.
Legacy is often used to describe post event benefits in sectors such as economic, social and environmental.
Our State, Imo is unquestionably in dire need of rebranding across all sectors that defines human and infrastructural development, thus hosting the next National Sports Festival slated for 2022, is one strategy to fast-track infrastructural development in the short term.
With the commitment of government, public and private–sector investments, partnership, image and identity impacts, structural expansion in visitor economy and supply chain will be guaranteed.
Of another importance is the opportunity it would offer Imo sons and daughters who will carry our flag to the fore front of competitions to experience real-time feeling of victory.
For many, the festival may very well be their highest level of exposure and participation at competitive level. It is an experience that would live with them for a life time, while others it may be their stepping stone to higher sporting glories.
Either way, whether for athletes or officials, they are bound to remember the experiences to be so honoured. It is a feeling that will always be associated with our amiable Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma.
It is in view of the fore-going that hosting the National Sports Festival in 2022 is desirous.
•Dr Pat Ekeji was former Director General, National Sports Commission (NSC)