SWAN Gives Road Maps To IMSG For Return Of Heartland FC Back To Prem
Everest Ezihe, Owerri
Worried by the relegation of Heartland FC, Owerri from Nigeria Premier League to Nigeria Professional League and as critical stakeholders in the growth and development of sports in Imo State and Nigeria at large, members of Imo State Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN has given Imo State Government road maps for the return of the state darlyn club back to the nation’s premiership.
The professional association gave the way forward in a 13 points communique they issued at the end of their July, 2022 monthly congress held at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri and as drafted by her 3 man committee that includes Messrs Johnkennedy Uzoma of Nigerian Tribune, Sampson Orji of Trumpeta and Tunde Liadi of Sporting Life Newspapers and endorsed by Everest Ezihe and Tunde Liadi as the Association’s Chairman and Secretary respectively.
According to the communique the Association commended the State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma for his Shared Prosperity and 3 R mantra administration efforts at ensuring sports development in the State.
The Association, however, expresses dismay over the relegation of Heartland FC from the topflight league to the lower league.
The organisation regrettably observed the speed with which the State darling club was forced into relegation again owing to internal wranglings barely a few seasons after the club suffered the same fate.
Imo SWAN therefore, advocates a total overhaul and change of Heartland FC Management with a substantive Chairman or a General Manager that has the ability and capacity to reposition the Club, charisma and the wherewithal to instill discipline in the club as well as answer directly to the Governor so as to ensure prudent accountability as well as to act with quick intervention when funds are delayed from the government.
The Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Imo Chapter suggests that Heartland FC and Heartland Queens FC be funded on a monthly budgets that could last at least for a whole season and not just on match by match basis that has stifled the progress of both clubs for the past few seasons.
The Sports Journalists as partners in progress implore the state government through its representatives to make adequate arrangement for Heartland FC camping during pre-season activities as well as get a befitting place as camp in Owerri which will end the embarrassment often suffered by the team for putting up in a Hotel due to unpaid accumulated debts.
The Association further more passionately appealed to the State Government to offer proper contracts and welfare packages to Players/Management of Heartland FC and Heartland Queens FC to checkmate the tide of incessant exodus of quality players at the end of every season.
SWAN also seeks for the improvement and proper maintenance of the playing surface of Dan Anyiam stadium, Owerri throughout the season knowing that this will aid Heartland FC early comeback to the Premier League while Heartland Queens will benefit from training and playing on good pitch in their return to the Nigeria Women’s Football League Premiership.
The Sports Journalists equally canvassed for the appointment of an experienced football/Sports technocrat to Head the Imo State Ministry of Sports so as to instill professionalism and also produce needed results as it is obtainable in Delta and Edo states and other states that are doing well in administering sports. If possible Imo State can return back to Sports Commission instead of Ministry.
The Association also advised on the need for early preparations for the National Sports Festivals and National Youth Games in view of the fact that the State in recent past has not performed creditably well because of inadequate preparations and gross indiscipline.
SWAN enjoined the State Government to as a matter of expediency host and reward without further delay athletes who represented and did the state proud at the National Youth Games in Ilorin, Kwara state; National Sports Festival in Benin City, Edo
o State; Para Athletes as well as players of Heartland Queens FC that recently gained promotion back to NWFL Premiership as a way of encouraging and motivating others for more future laurels.
The Sports Journalists further frown at the continued delay in the construction of the State Olympic Sized Swimming Pool and other sporting facilities such as laying of the tartan track inside Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri among other sporting facilities knowing full well that good facilities aid and improve athletes performances at competitions.
The Association also urges the state government and its agencies to regularly partner individuals and private organizations in sponsoring and facilitating sporting programmes which have the capacities of engaging youths into meaningful activities with a view to reducing social ills and vices.
SWAN expressed gratitude to Imo State Government for the appointment of Ferdinard Emeana as the Director of Sports, Imo Sports Commission just as his good works in Handball and other sports in the state and at the national levels have made him adequately qualified to take sports in the state to its zenith if given the needed support and encouragement from the state Government.