Delta State governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa (right), former sports commissioner, Chief Solomon Ogba (left) and captain of Team Delta after the state emerged champion at the 19th National Sports Festival tagged Abuja 2018
Despite dominating the National Sports Festival since the return to democracy in 1999, former Nigerian jumper, hurdler and sprinter, Seigha Porbeni, says Delta state still has a long way to go. He described Delta sports in its 29 years of existence as a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Delta State, which was created in 1991 by the General Ibrahim Babangida’s military regime, turned 29 on Thursday. While the government and some of the people were celebrating, Porbeni, who was the state director of sports in 1991, took his time to reflect of their achievement in the area of sports.
“It has been a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly for sports in Delta state since 1991,” Porbeni told The Guardian yesterday. Under Porbeni’s tenure, Team Delta contributed great athletes to the nation’s sports. And since his departure, the state has maintained its position as the ‘capital of sports’ in Nigeria, winning the National Sports Festival six times in eight editions. Delta won at Bauchi 2000, Abuja 2004 and Gateway 2006 under Chief James Ibori’s administration (1999-2007), KADA 2009 and Eko 2012 under Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (2007-2015), while the current governor Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has accounted for one victory at Abuja 2018. Team Delta has won all editions of the National Youth Games under Okowa.
For Porbeni however, Delta has not attained its ultimate goal, particularly in the area of sports infrastructure and maintenance of facilities.
“There are some basic areas we are lacking behind,” he said. “As it is today, Delta can’t boast of a standard stadium, where a world-class sporting event can take place. At the beginning, our athletes were using facilities in other states to prepare for competition before the government built stadia across the local government. I commend their effort. But look at some of our stadia, the swimming pool and tartan track are in terrible shape. One thing is to build stadia, another thing is to make them function properly. We need intelligent Games Organisers, who could use their wisdom to draw competitions to the venue. That is the way to keep a stadium alive. That is why I said Delta at 29 has been a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly,” Porbeni stated.