Good health is essential for the health and wealth of youths; our future leaders. That is why physical fitness activity is important for youth development, including their current and future health and good state of mind. It is recommended by health experts that youths should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
Most of youthful physical activity occurs outside the home environment, access to and the quality of community recreation facilities and programming are particularly relevant to add vigour to their daily activity table. Community recreational facilities is a good platform and have a great capacity to meet the physical fitness needs of the ever growing population of youths therefore improving the development of their physical and mental health, encouraging team work, unity, love, patriotism and talent exploitation.
There is a myth which suggests that an idle mind easily becomes an evil workshop, the down side of these attributes of physical development can include but not be limited to cultism, banditry, rape, kidnapping, burglary, cyber crime etc which if not properly handled slides into extreme cases of terrorism.
Apart from holidays, weekends, a major part of free time for youths is after school hours which collectively forms a major discretionary time that youths have, and one in which many youths participate in community sporting activities.
Having said this, it is not surprising that a man who has surpassed all records in youth empowerment and development, a distinguished leader of youths, accomplished politician, human capacity builder, highly acclaimed civil engineer, motivator of the youths and most phenomenal and hyper quintessential speaker of the 7th Abia State House of Assembly The Rt. Honourable Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji most respectfully called “Ikuku Oma Abia” has birthed a new vista in youth development worthy of emulation by all leaders and vanguards of good leadership and governance.
Knowing the essence of clean and portable water supply, he had single handedly provided water supply outlets at strategic points in the Umuahia Meteropolis and environs which also covers his entire State Constituency and has continuously maintained and serviced these facilities for over 4 years thereby giving the common man from Macaulay, School Road, Azikiwe Road, Mission hill, Ugwu Nchara, Over Rail, Uwalaka, Finbars, Lagos Street and many other streets in Umuahia Urban access to convenient and clean water supply.
His ICT training of youths is gaining momentum to birth a new generation of computer literate youths who can become disciplined and employable in legitimate ventures and projects rather than becoming cyber threats to society. Other support activities include scholarships, employments and building of roads in Amuzukwu area.
The vision to embark on building these massive, very robust and state of the art recreational facilities within Ikwuano/Umuahia comprising of Umuahia North, Umuahia South and Ikwuano LGA respectively is widely perceived to be based on his reputation of distributing amenities and goodwill to other areas beyond his immediate state Constituency to favour people on distant Umuahia North Constituency, Umuahia South and deep into Abia South Senatorial to mention but a few. One of the exciting features of these sports centres or stadium is their large pavilion which can sit a large number of people to view the events happening in the main bowl of the stadium. Their is provision for standard pitch grassing, lighting, toilet facilities etc.
These sports centres now under construction are located at Isieke Primary School, Umuahia North, Ubakala Primary School, Ezeleke Primary School, Umuokpara both in Umuahia South LGA and another in Ikwuano LGA with other locations still coming up which are all designed and expected to bring together young people to enjoy the benefits of a modern day recreational experience that will foster fair play, team work, group competitions and team spirit. With growing number of local football clubs springing up in this area, their will be abundant football pitches for practice and organized matches. Beyond football matches, this facility can also serve as an event venue for celebrations, match pasts, socio-political activities, government receptions.
It takes the engineering ingenuity of a technocrat in legislative governance to discover and spot such strategic use of these spacious school fields which have been lying under utilized and to put them to optimal and the best multi-purpose use, boost their sports value and utility to the interest of all in the community.
This gesture of Ikuku Oma Abia has also further shown and confirmed the fact that government is a collective effort of all. With the rapid increase in youth population and the big task of engaging them meaningfully to reduce the adverse consequences of keeping them idle, building these facilities has further helped to reduce the load from the state Government of building these recreational facilities to engage the youths positively. In his appreciation of the philanthropic gesture, the Governor of Abia State Okezie Ikpeazu PhD had expressed his support and appreciation of this project as well as his belief in the positive impact it will make in the host communities.
Another interesting thing about these projects embarked upon by Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji is that going with the foot steps of his father, former Governor of Abia State, Senator TA Orji a man reputed for supporting equity, peace and harmony among Abians, young and old in all levels of the society is the fact that Mr.
Speaker has succeeded in carrying along major stakeholders in these host communities and even naming the stadium after them, a move that has shown great regard and honour to some elder statesmen in these areas. For example, naming the stadium sited at Ubakala, Umuahia South after Chief Tony Ukasanya is indeed a very welcomed idea in honour to one of the founding fathers of Abia State and prominent leader of the Ubakala people.
This idea has brought home in flying colours the idea of community ownership of this vision that will also guarantee the protection of these expensively built facilities by the indegenes. And as the popular Igbo word will always say, “Nke a bu nke anyi” meaning “this one is our own” truely, this is for them and by them.
In general, Engr. Chinedum Orji has established a memorial and legacy cast on solid gold plates that will stand the test of time. Beyond the beauty, ecstatic and magnificence of these centres, the primary benefit of sports for youth development is a core target to be achieved by Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji. These include:
Improved cardiovascular health and fitness for all youths being involved in sports activities in these stadiums can lead to massive improvements in cardiovascular health. Activities that gets the hearts of these youths pumping faster will make it stronger and provide them with increased endurance over time and this will give these youths more energy overall. Playing various games in these fields which are normally cardio activity will also help these youths to avoid excess weight as they burn fat and extra calories to enable them maintain healthy living.
By participating in sports activities here youths will be using their muscles which will lead to gains in strength. Example: during a game of football, players improve the strength in their legs by dribbling the ball, kicking it for passes, and trying to score a goal.
These recreational centres will further produce new friendships. As youths come together for practices and games, tight bonds between team mates will be established and this will most times go well beyond sports and extend beyond the pitch to life outside.
Playing in a team in these sports centres is a fun way to work together. Youths who play on a team learn about how to cooperate with others, work together towards a common goal, and be supportive of one another in all situations good or bad.
As a man of discipline, investing in building sports infrastructure further shows his commitment to discipline and good conduct. This is because playing in sports will require these youths to set targets and goals, thoroughly put in the time and focus to reach them, and have the discipline to do this consistently over time.
It is also expected that Rt. Hon. Chinedum Orji a Civil Engineer of high repute and well known for precision and also profound cleanliness and hygiene who has been seen personally while supervising the construction projects has been seen climbing and getting to the tip of pillars to ascertain that the appropriate rods, cement/sand combinations are used in casting pillars and columns will also urge the youths to exercise discipline in keeping these structures clean and functioning always.
In a world where desprate, over ambitious and dangerous competiton for power, supremacy, ill gotten wealth and dangerous territorial conquest has given rise to more social evils, by putting up the stadiums and engaging these youths in sports, Rt. Hon. Engr. Chinedum Orji will be promoting good sportsmanship. In games and life in general, it’s easy and glorious to handle winning situations, but to handle losses is not easy.
Instances of losses erupt violence, hate and if not controlled causes wars between neighbours. In games like football and many others, their must be a winner and a losser. By going through the experience of losing a game youths will learn how to handle defeat with full acceptance and good sportsmanship. Even in times of winning they also learn how to handle the excitement of wins while still upholding mutual respect and peace with the loosing team.
Most importantly, engaging the youths in gainful and responsible sporting activity which exposes them to exrcises that helps reduce stress, depressions and even improve sleep which leads to improvements in their life style.
By engaging in these sporting activities, the time of these youths is well occupied morning, afternoon most days, the time to plan or indulge in negative or criminal acts is occupied in team work, practice and competitions while the time to do evil at night will be displaced by deep sleeping hours caused by fatigue after long play has ceased.
In conclusion, it is strongly believed that the giant strides of Rt. Hon. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji is indeed worthy of emulation and further implementation by leaders in all spheres of human resource administration and management.
It is worthy of note that years ago when the alarming rate of kidnapping, armed robbery and other clandestine and illicit activities most perpetrated by people mostly in their young age was almost overwhelming the peace and security of the land, the Youth Empowerment Inititaives of Engr. Chinedum pioneered a unified and result oriented approach towards engaging the youths to save the threat posed by these acts at that time. Today, another new dimension is being introduced by the benevolent and sports loving doyen of youth empowerment and development.
Bearing in mind that if you get the youths right, you get the nation right, the sports development initiative of Rt. Hon. Engr. Chinedum Orji by building sports stadiums across communities remains a sine qua non, an essential ingridient and an indispensable element in nation building for youths of today and the youths yet unborn.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.