Romanus Ugwu, who was in Awka
The 12th edition of the Nigeria Police Games, tagged Anambra 2020, will go into the annals of history as one of the best technically and logistically organised tournaments since the Games debuted in 1980, in Calabar, Cross River State.
The thrilling weeklong sporting activities held between February 29 to March 7, in Anambra State, recorded international standards like-never-before. Surprisingly, Olympic and international records were set and broken during the games, by the men of guns, teargas and weapons.
To underscore the seriousness of the games, the participants competed fiercely, inflicting severe injuries on one another, especially in kickboxing and other combat events. The joy of the Anambra sports-loving fans knew no bounds as their, hitherto, ‘enemy police’ entertained them with their stimulating performances.
Motivated by the curiosity to be promoted to the next ranks once they secure gold medals, the athletes and other participants left no stone unturned in putting in their best, which ensured that the games met international standards in every ramification.
It was so good that Anambra State Governor, Willie Obiano, alongside other government officials, spared time from their pressing administrative functions to visit the venues to watch, cheer, encourage and present trophies or medals to the deserving athletes.
The opening and closing ceremonies were top-notch, entertaining and fun-filled, comparable to international standards, with no fewer than 20,000 spectators, including important dignitaries in attendance.
The event was a win-win situation for the people of Anambra as legacy sporting facilities were not only upgraded and/or built newly, but the presence of the over 5,000 police officers on ground also ensured that the state remained as crime free as ever for the benefits of the citizens.
Beyond the guaranteed security and sports breakthroughs, the event was also an economic boom for the states. The economy of Anambra State improved, judging by the visitors’ patronage of goods and services. It was so good that Governor Obiano admitted that the state raked in over N1 billion from the games.
There were brisk businesses for the hotel owners, small scale business enterprise, transport owners, food vendors, traders, retail merchants, joint operators and every other sector.
The crowning memory of the games’ takeaways was the fact that no death and or serious casualties were recorded during the games. Yes, the games turned bloody in some events like kickboxing, but the insignificant number cannot be anything compared to the joy of the participants, officials and good people of Anambra state.
Although the President and the Vice President who were billed to declare open and close the games could only send representatives, like the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare and the Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazu, the event was, however, a gathering of who is who from government and the foremost security outfit.
From the current Inspector General of Police (IGP) Adamu Mohammed Abubakar, the over three retired IGPs, serving and retired DIGs, AIGs and other senior police officers, past and serving ministers, A-list top comedians and musicians like Flavour, Okey Bakassi, retired sportsmen and women like Olympic gold medallist, Chioma Ajunwa and sprint queen, Mary Onyeali, among others.
The venues for the sporting events comprised Rojeny International stadium, venue for the track and field events, NYSC Permanent Orientation camp in Mbaukwu, Umuawulu, venue for some indoor games, Otuocha, where the football event was held and the popular Ekwueme Square, the melting point of the games.
The venues may be some kilometres apart, but the near perfect transportation system made networking seamlessly stress free.
Unlike the previous editions where athletes and officials complained to no end about the reward system, non-payment of honorariums, poor accommodation and pitiable logistics, the Anambra police games did not record any single complaint from both the athletes and officials.
Even when there was palpable anxiety over IPOB ‘s threat to disrupt the games at inception, the organising committee members argued that despite the teething challenges initially encountered like poor facilities, lack of required kits and certain logistics, the efforts of the state government in deploying resources to standardise the games deserve commendations.
Boasting that participants at the 12th Biennial Police Games have been adequately rewarded, former Anambra state Commissioner of Police (CP), Garba Umar, claimed that apart from rewarding the athletes, the biggest takeaway is that international and Olympics records were broken during the games.
Fielding questions from journalists on the side-line at the Ekwueme Square, venue of the swimming event, the former CP boasted that: “with the set up by the Anambra State government, in conjunction with the Nigeria Police Force, the blind could even see that the 12th Biennial Police Games was an improvement from the previous editions.
“The standard of facilities put up for the games within the shortest time have provided the opportunity we needed, I believe that the athletes and officials really enjoyed the games. You also know that Anambra, one of the most peaceful state, gave us the favourable environment we needed to compete effectively and hunt for talents that would replace the aged athletes.
“The good thing is that police gave the participants the best in terms of security, accommodation, feeding and welfare of the athletes. We are not expecting any complaint from the officials and athletes. The biggest takeaway of the games will be the international and Olympic records were broken,” he boasted.
Speaking during the colourful closing ceremony, governor Obiano had urged the athletes to continue to project Anambra in positive light having enjoyed the hospitality and peace from the residents of the state.
“When I reflect on what has happened here since we gathered on February 29, I begin to realise that so much have happened in just one week.”
“Again, when I reflect on what has happened, I begin to realise that we can write a sporting new chapter of history in one week and that we can also write a new book of greatness in one week. History and greatness is what the games have done and we have put out an amazing narrative of excellence in one week.
“Hosting the 12th edition of the biennial Police Games has brought out the best in us; nothing else unites a people like sports and nothing renews national unity and heals the cracks between people like sports. I have no doubt that many of the participants may never have visited Anambra if not for ‘Anambra 2020’.
“I urge the participants to preach the success story of the state to their respective states, families and friends,” he appealed.