Akwa Back On The Pitch

Udeme Uyota, a seasoned journalist and commentator on contemporary issues is a rabid fan of Akwa United in particular and football in general. I cede this week's space to him. Enjoy.

 "Few weeks from now and much to the delight of football fans across the country, the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) will return live football matches and related activities to various football pitches doting the football crazy nation. It is this beautiful game that always draws the tumultuous country into one united bond despite its diversity and dividing social fissures.

 "Akwa United Football Club, the flagship of club football in Akwa Ibom State, would join in this roll off, first, with an invitational participation in the Governor Nyesom Wike pre- season tourney holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in the next few days. The prime participation in this annual fiesta is going to be the foot test of the elite football team. 

"And in the midst of her last minute but energetic preparations to put things in place, all in a clear anticipation of launching a brilliant campaign in the awaited reopening of the NPFL season, Akwa United FC, it can be boldly believed has set her sights fully on returning to her winning ways, different from the stuttering start of last season. This would predictively happen even at the least blast of the kick off whistle of the 2020/ 21 season coming up few weeks from now.

 "But as it is, the 2020/21 season would be more promising for the team and in spite of finishing sixth on the controversial table of the previous and ended season. Part of this was occasioned by its abrupt abrogation following the devastating outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Ever since, the world had yet remained the same in any spheres of human endeavour, Nigeria being no exception. "But appreciating her current form, Akwa United FC, despite all the strange upsets that overtook the previous season appears spot-on ready to go into any game with every team pitched against her whenever the national football fixtures will come out.

 "Albeit, this is coming after the Federal Government through the Task Force on COVID-19 Pandemic, among others of her oversight institutions decided to lift the ban earlier placed on contact sports in the nation. This followed the abrupt cessation of football activities among other contact sports. As football matches are gradually kicking off in various big and famous leagues hitherto suspended across the world, Akwa United FC will join in making her restart at living soccer after nearly an eight-month physical hiatus.

 "Presently, the Paul Bassey-led club side appears to be both battle-tested and very ready to roar out in the season with her new and latest sign-on's brought into the front row of Nigeria's football industry, tutored by Coach Kennedy Boboye.

 "For the bearers of the Promise Keepers brand which they are christened after a state known as the Land of Promise, these latest members of the Akwa United family are believed daring, skillful and very formidable to the pending test of both excellence and strength. And it in a way indicates the club's state of preparedness, much especially as it is fostered by a technical team who are proving bold, resilient and more determined to stay at the very top. From reports and appearances of this topflight club which gained promotion to the elite status more than 11 years ago, they have deftly calculated the challenges ahead and in the envisaged effort, chart the best way and an inclusive team strategy to confront it all. 

"And why is this huge optimism so possible? "The question, or rather the most sincere one after the season was rudely disrupted should of course be if Akwa United FC indeed step up itself after a witnessed drop in form?

 "But to get to the root of providing a cogent and very satisfying answer to the question, it is not that this team actually performed poorly in the eye of informed pundits or at that, the many of the followers of the beautiful game. Much and seemingly huge expectations were rather built around the club.
Again, a supposed derby rivalry with Akwa Starlets lately rechristened Dakkada FC, injected so much misperception and outright sentimental misrating of the team's performance in the eye of local supporters. But these, against all odds had necessarily beefed up the club's game amid an added dexterity and a status pride to stay on top the league as the true Akwa Ibom flagship and obviously her only enduring star in the continental and national football industry.

 "About the misplaced but supposed rivalry, and much as it was clearly considered an unfounded sentiment, especially on the part of the younger club side which previously played a booster role for the parent team, this had needed not arise at all. 

"The younger club had barely mastered the turf for one whole season as a newly promoted club side into the premier league rank and would have rarely bettered the performance of the Big Bear. It had needlessly required to sail on a fan enthused ego trip against the 23-year-old elite team, which, besides the back-to-back winning of the Aiteo Cup (formerly, The Challenge or Federation Cup) in the last few years, has continued to reflect some excellent levels of progress, formidability and consistency in performance as a top rated and respected club side in the country. 

"The glory and acclaim of the club of course goes to Governor Udom Emmanuel who has continuously shown capacity and a deep sense of commitment of his administration to use sport as one of the greatest brand ambassadors to colour and reposition the lopsided perception of the state as a globally rated hydrocarbon and oil and gas hub.

 This is as it has continuously been perceived as if nothing else were happening in the state beyond oil and gas exploration or its more than bandied high earnings from an otherwise federation account vide a notoriously very lopsided derivation formula. "And for sure, the indefatigable sport commissioner, Sir Monday Ebong Uko, is not sleeping on his oars. His efforts, tied to the rare dexterity of Paul Bassey to reinvent the fortunes of the club, has over time been found and rated so immense.

 "Of a truth, Paul Bassey since his draft few years ago as chairman of the club, whose fortunes were drastically dropping, has increasingly exhibited a manifest capacity as a quintessential professional tasked to conduct its affairs. Coupled with the challenge of unforgivable failure, he is seen and consistently perceived as the force behind the ever impressive and undeniably admirable but significantly changing fortunes of the club. "As expected of the pre-season preparations, it is considered that with all things well stacked in Akwa United FC's favour, she should expectedly be in a deft warm-up run to blast off the active season.

 "But whenever the season kicks off full blast, it should indeed be seen and made to be believed that Governor Udom Emmanuel, through an equally vibrant sports ministry, and amid a horde of concerned and very committed professionals, did not misplace his priorities or so much too, the scarce funds and resources of the Akwa Ibom commonwealth in sparing nothing to ensure that the team possesses what it takes to lift and permanently secure Akwa Ibom State's name as a football top brand that reverberates across the world. 

 With the turn of the 20/21 season, this would likely become possible. But to win and always succeed in winning her games and matches, Akwa United FC has just two things before it: work and dedication. This fantastic combination would always put and well place it constantly on the winning ways; and except by chance, its slides with the lack of importance attached to hard work and team vision, and with the ill luck of such forces find her losing into oblivion. And God forbid, judging by the landmark of her remarkable transformation and attainments in the past years of the league. Till next week, by His grace. 

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