By; MUSA KUTAMA, Calabar.
The Cross River Government has restated its determination to immortalise indigenous sports heroes, dead or alive, through sustainable sponsorship of competitions in the state.
Orok Duke, the Chairman of the State Sports Commission gave the assurance in an interactive session with sportswriters in Calabar on Sunday.
Duke, who also used the occasion to unveil the programme for Gov. Ben Ayade U-15 Football Tournament for Secondary Schools, said those slated for immortalisation included boxing legend Hogan Bassey.
According to him, Oyo Orok Oyo, international sports administrator and renown sportswriter Bassey `Koma’ Ekpo will also be honoured through competitions organised by the commission.
The sports Commission’s chairman said his administration also aimed to re-enact those happy days when students who perform well in sports were offered scholarships to study abroad.
Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo, the first Nigerian member of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), died Sept. 10, 2008 at the age of 86 in Calabar.
Oyo, popularly referred to as the father modern Nigerian football, served for 12 years as Secretary General of the then Nigeria football Association and member of CAF between 1974 and 1998.
Okon Asuquo Bassey (Hogan `Kid’ Bassey) was the World Featherweight boxing Champion in 1957.
He remained the youngest boxer to win the national flyweight title in 1950 at the age of 18 while in secondary school.
Bassey was a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 1958 and Member of the Order of Niger (MON) in 1979.
The commission’s chairman also said that Edidiong Ofonime Odiong, former Nigerian Junior Champion in the 400 metres in 2013 now running for Bahrain would also be honoured.
Odiong won gold in 200 metres for Bahrain, her adopted country, in the IAAF World U-20 Championships in Poland when she was 19 years old.
Duke also said that Offiong Edem a living female tennis legend from the state and John Okon Ene, the late Nigerian international male football midfielder, would all be honoured through tournaments organised by the commission.
He said that no fewer than 254 secondary schools had registered to participate in the U-15 tournament to begin on March 6 across 18 council areas in the three senatorial districts of the state.
He said that the Grand finale of the tournament would involve six schools at the U.J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar between March 28 and March 31 this year.
He said the opening match for schools in the Calabar Municipality would kick off at the U.J. Esuene stadium on March 6.
Duke said: “The essence is to engage the youths and foster peace. Adequate arrangement would be made for participants, this we can assure the parents of these young people.
According to Ekanem Ekpenyong, a Commissioner in the Sports Commission there would be N10, 000 each for Best defender, Best Midfielder, and highest Goal scorer respectively in the competition.
He said the prize would be in honour of Christopher Edem, John Okon Ene and Bassey `Koma’ Ekpo, the late sports journalist, respectively.
In a related development te sports commission boss stated that after the tournament a basketball championship for primary and secondary schools would be flagged by the commission.
He said that fitting balls and training shoes had been procured for training by the young people wishing to participate in the male and female category of the tournament at the stadium’s basketball pitch.