By Amaechi Agbo
Senator Ned Nwoko, representing Delta State North Senatorial zone at the Red Chambers of the National assembly, The Senate, is one lawmaker his passion for sports, particularly grassroots sports, cannot be underestimated.
Senator Nwoko’s passion for sports generally has earned him prestige and relevance among the timbers and calibres in sports circle both within and outside the country.
Recently, the Delta State born politician and former House of Representatives member, was in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory to honour the final of the 5Stars Premier League.
The Senator who recently married to Nollywood actress, Regina Daniel commended the organisers of the league and expressed his total commitment to keep support grassroots football development in the country.
The billionaire politician, who is the founder and owner of the only sports university in Nigeria, sited in Delta state, said that he was passionate about sports and its development. Hence his resolve to establish a platform were talented athletes, players and coaches can be discovered, nurtured and groomed for the country.
Speaking on why he honoured the invitation to the league final, the Senator said “I love sports and support sports and will always do everything to support any sports gathering.
“First of all, you are probably aware of my sports university project going on in Delta State. That is a university that is geared towards sports – from football, swimming, tennis, Taekwondo, all sports.
“We are also working closely with Fulham Football Club in London and Soccer Stars Project. They have been here in the country and they have gone around some of the states in Nigeria such as Lagos, Anambra and Delta; scouting for young footballers. Some of these young footballers we expect them to play oversees. It is a way of grooming them, encouraging and making them stay away from crimes and other vices. Our vision is to make the youth engage themselves and be useful to the country.
“To provide support and platform for every young person who wants to be educated. We never had enough universities in the country and this is unique as we are focusing on sports. Making sure that we develop people mentally and physically together. We can nurture and produce the best sports men and women for the next generation from the University of this nature.
“Currently most of our sports men and women are those who are naturally gifted and they do it on their own, not supported by anybody. We have the likes of Chioma Ajunwa, Mary Onyali, John Fashunu and the rest of them. Most of them just grew through self-help but we are saying that giving them an environment of a university, we can produce the best in the world. Because we are providing the best opportunity for them to compete with the best in the world. And they will make us proud.
“For now there is no plan to expand the university beyond Delta because Delta state is the home of sports in Nigeria.
“On the 5Stars Premier League, we came with our scouters and I believe they could have seen one or two talents to pick and enlist and support them to play professional football.
“The fact is that event like the 5Stars should be a nurturing ground for very young and talented footballer so we don’t just take it as an event just to meet and have fun. It is not about fun, it is about identifying talented, skilful future footballers that can possibly become stars in various clubs all over the world and hopefully play for our beloved country Nigeria.
“We came to see the kind of support we can give the young ones, to help them become what they want to become tomorrow. We watched the final for the sake of the young stars, to support and groom them.
“We support grassroots football because we are committed to it and scout good players so we can give them opportunity to play their football outside the country.
“We have been in three different states and we have gotten a lot of talented players out there. In Lagos we got 26 players, Delta we got 25 players and in Anambra we got 25 players. Now we are working on them,” he said.
Giving live to his words, Senator Nwoko said the team of his scouts from Fulham Football Club of England identified three players during the final and will work with them to enhance their careers.
“Yes, we noticed few players at the 5Stars final. We got three players from the female players that played a novelty match. There was a player that scored a heart trick in the match, she is very good and she is a grassroots player. I think we will work with her by giving her our support and all the help she needs to become a better player.
“We will take her abroad, we are in partnership with Fulham Football Club in England and as well, Leads United and PSG of France. So we are not here just to watch the matches, we have other purposes of being here,” he said.
Speaking on the vision of Senator Nwoko in developing talents in sports, Francis Ikechukwu, former U-23 player, who is also the intermediary between the university and Fulham Football Club in England said that the philosophy of the Senator in sports development is amazing.
“It is amazing because he has the big heart for the grassroots players. He has a university that is basically for sports and that is what one needs to give to the society. He is doing his best with the university and encouraging the young ones to do what they need to do by bringing their talents out and they have a platform to actualise their dreams in sports.”