The Akwa Ibom Judo Sport Association (AKJSA) has expressed its readiness to partner Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Akwa Ibom chapter, for the development of the game to win more laurels and become a force to be reckoned with in sporting events. The chairman of the association, Mr Bunmi Johnson, made the remark recently, when the executive committee of Sports Writers Association Nigeria (SWAN), Akwa Ibom chapter, led by Comrade Emmanuel Akpan, paid the Judo board a courtesy visit at his office in Uyo. He highlighted the achievements of the state in judo sport in the last four years to include 68 medals; comprising 27 gold, 14 silver and 27 bronze at 11 competitions which five medals came at three international competitions and 63 at eight national competitions. Johnson, who is the managing director, Bunmi AD- Faloji Engineering Company Limited, noted that judo is a force to reckon with and deserves to be promoted by the sporting press, following-impressive performances and laurels won by the state judo athletes at national and International competitions. He stated that the association had been looking forward to interacting with SWAN and commended the new leadership of SWAN for its initiative and observed that the relationship would boost the development of the sport in the state and Nigeria at large. "Judo in Akwa Ibom State is a force to reckon with since its inception in the state, especially during my tenure as Chairman since 2008, he asserted. Besides, he informed that judoka Ewa Ekuta is the International Judo Federation (IJF) highest ranked judoka in Nigeria at 105th place with 120 points in the women's -63kg World Ranking List, after win ning silver and a bronze medal at the 2019 Yaounde and Dakar African Open Championships, respectively. According to him, the judoka is currently seeking for sponsorship to participate in the remaining qualifiers for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. Bunmi hinted that the association was blessed with qualified technical officials like chief coach, Ewa Ekuta, who is the technical director of Nigeria Judo Federation (NJF) and the highest graded coach in the state, having attended coaching courses in Hungary and Germany. He also mentioned that female coach, Catherine Ekuta, who is a National Institute of Sports (NIS) Grade II coach and an Olympian, attended a coaching course in South Korea and is currently the head of coaching department in the Akwa Ibom State Youth and Sports Ministry. Johnson added that the association was planning to host the state Judo team who won three medals including gold and two bronze medals at the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja. The four-time Akwa Ibom Judo chairman said on the long term, he was pleading with the state government to provide a plot of land for the association to build and equip a befitting Dojo and training centre for Akwa Ibom Judokas. He added that the centre will help in the improvement of the sport for the winning of more laurels and appealed to the state government which had created a conducive environment for sports development to provide a land for the purpose. He, however, expressed displeasure at the sports writers for focusing on football reportage to the detriment of other sports including judo which had made the state proud at various fora. The chairman called on the new leadership of SWAN to ensure a change of attitude as the association was prepared to partner sports writers in this direction.
Earlier, the chairman SWAN, Akwa Ibom chapter, Comrade Emmanuel Akpan, said his administration was ready to partner the association to promote Judo activities and training programmes. He explained that sports will be promoted with the effort of all the 30 media officers attached to the respective associations. Akpan said that since his assumption of office, his administration had resolved to partner with the 30 sports associations in the state, including Judo to project all their activities. The chairman, who doubles as the media officer of Akwa Ibom State Weightlifting Association, used the visit to officially invite the Judo executive board to SWAN thanksgiving service scheduled on Sunday, July 12, 2020, at the Apostolic Church, Four Towns, Uyo. Also speaking, the secretary of SWAN, Mr Theophilus Udo stressed that the body will work together with Judo association to attract sponsorship from corporate brands in Akwa Ibom and beyond. The executive present at the courtesy visit were: vice chairman, Anthony Effiong, treasurer, Patrick Titus, Enefiok Ndon, financial secretary, including media officer, Judo, Uwem Uko.