Akwa Back On The Pitch
By Paul Bassey
October 30, 2020
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.
"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
"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
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
"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.