By Leonard Okachie
Umuahia, April 2, 2021
A total of 101 athletes from Abia will be competing in 16 sports categories at the 2020 National Sports Festival in Edo.
The Abia Director of Sports, Mr Isaac Ogbonnaya-Isaac, made the disclosure to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Umuahia shortly before the team departed for Benin on Friday.
He said that the contingent also included 13 team managers, 17 coaches and 20 officials.
The director said that the athletes would compete in weightlifting, wrestling, kung fu, taekwondo, karate, kick boxing, para-power lifting, para-athletics, deaf athletics, darts, boxing, table tennis and others.
He said that the team set a target not to go below the fifth position, adding that Abia was expected to excel in at least 10 of the 16 categories the athletes would compete in.
He said, “Our expectations are very high because we are a force to reckon with.
“We are going to a sports festival that has suffered so many postponements; as a result, the interest of other states will be very high.
“Our state is to be counted among the other states that have performed creditably well on the medals table.”
Mr Friday Ikpoha, the Permanent Secretary, in the state’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, told NAN that the state government funded the team.
He said that the team was moving into Edo adequately prepared.
He hoped that the team would win gold and silver medals.
Earlier, Ikpoha, while addressing the athletes, charged them to go for victory, assuring them of proper remuneration.
He charged them to be disciplined and good ambassadors of the state.
The Team Abia Captain, Kalu Eke, promised that the athletes would do the state proud.
NAN reports that all the athletes and those going with them were vaccinated against COVID-19 before their departure.