A Stalwart of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, Engr. Jude Akpodubakaye has said sport can offer multiple opportunities to bridge even the bitterest socio-cultural divides at grassroots, describing soccer as a common cultural property which cannot be spoiled or suppressed by conflicts.
Engr. Akpodubakaye who stated this while speaking with newsmen at Isaba community in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State on Sunday shortly after hosting a local football competition among communities in the local government area, maintained that sport has become a good tool for bridging socio-cultural differences, fostering social integration with a view to bringing youths from different communities together.
He added: “Be it at the grassroots or community level, sport can provide useful ways of creating an environment in which people can come together and to work towards a common goal, showing respect for others and sharing same space and equipment, reiterating that the contributions of sport towards peace-building efforts at the grassroots cannot be overemphasised”.
According to him, the “Omo-Agege-Jude Football Empowerment Tournament”, was borne out of his desire to unite the four kingdoms that make up WarriSouth-West local government, Isaba, Ogbe-Ijoh, Gbaramatu and Itsekiri, in a bid to engage them in collective experience in order to establish direct physical contact among participants.
“The soccer tournament was basically to bring about friendly exchanges among the communities through building relationships among the different ethnic groups through football knowing that sport, being a non-verbal means of communication has the potential fostering social integration among different ethnic groups because sport has rather become a “neutral” pursuit for young people across the globe.
“By its very nature, sport is about participation, inclusion and citizenship. Sport has a unique power to attract, mobilize and inspire. Its intrinsic values, being teamwork, fairness, discipline, respect for the opponent and the rules of the game, can be harnessed in the advancement of solidarity, social cohesion and peaceful coexistence”, Engr. Akpodubakaye asserted.
In his brief remark, the representative of the Deputy Senate President and governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Oghenenyoro Godday Omidji said the Deputy Senate President has always like sports just as he expressed his satisfaction with the hitch-free inter community competition.
“I am of the opinion that such events be encouraged as annual sports festivals at the grassroots. Sport promotes universal values and is not limited to language or cultures. It plays a crucial role in improving the welfare of the planet and people. For instance, sporting icons, who are idolized by the youth, become global ambassadors of peace and unity. Sport, therefore, has the power to unite people beyond borders.
“Sport can be used to encourage people of all ages to become more physically active, providing opportunities for enjoyment and personal development, building self-esteem, and fostering positive social connection with others, as well as promoting and maintaining health and well-being”, he said.
The final match watch between Gbaramatu kingdom and Isaba kingdom ended 2-0 in favour of visiting Gbaramatu Kingdom
Highpoint of the tournament was the presentation of the cup and medals to the winners and first runner up, the hosting team Isaba team. The madein edition of the annual soccer competition attracted people from all walks of life.