Olympafrica Hands Over High Performance Centre Building To Management

A new state-of-the-art complex has been added to the ultra-modern facilities at the Sports Institute that further beautifies the skyline of the University. The new complex would house a sports science laboratory and the first anti-doping laboratory that is presently not available on any other university campus in West Africa.

Speaking before commissioning the new edifice at the Sports Institute which attracted both international and national sports administrators last Tuesday, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Professor Anthony Ibe, who stood in for the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ndowa Lale, said the Management was overwhelmed by the completion and hand-over of the complex to the University, preparatory for the commencement of full academic and administrative activities.

Professor Ibe, who conveyed the resolve of the Lale-led administration to sustain the conquering spirit of the University of Port Harcourt in university sports in the country and beyond, commended the efforts of previous administrations in building a formidable sporting University which had continued to grow in leaps and bounds from 2004 when the University hosted and won the first Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA) competition.

“We are proud of the attention we are receiving from topflight sports administrators and athletes from around the world and we will continue to commit ourselves to sports development in Nigeria and West Africa. On that note, the University wishes to express its gratitude to the Executive Director of Olympafrica Foundation, Therno Diack, who came all the way from Senegal and the Nigerian Olympic Committee for their support in helping us to raise the bar of our sporting prowess. We also owe special gratitude to our 5th Vice-Chancellor, Emeritus Professor Nimi Briggs during whose glorious tenure, the University constructed this imposing sports complex and won the first NUGA competition in 2004,” the Acting Vice-Chancellor recalled.

He also expressed gratitude to the pioneer Director of the Sports Institute, Professor Ken Anugweje, Chairman of the Sports Complex Management Committee, Professor Matthew Wegwu, his predecessor, Professor Mark Anikpo and others, who continue to make personal sacrifices to position the University as an attractive global sporting brand.

In his remarks, during a courtesy visit to the Vice-Chancellor before the hand-over ceremony of the building, Chairman, Board of the Sports Institute, Emeritus Professor Briggs, disclosed that the Board has commenced full activities in line with the mandate given to it by the Management of the University at its inauguration.

“We came to formally tell the Vice-Chancellor that we have commenced activities in line with the mandate given to us. We are proud of our achievements so far in sports and we wish to further consolidate on them. Team UniPort has won consistently in NUGA, WAUG and other sundry competitions and the University does not expect anything less. The Sports Institute is a gold-mine which national and international sporting bodies recognise and we are determined to nurture it to its full potentials.

“UniPort has been given the right to host WAUG, but the Federal University in Makurdi, Benue State will host NUGA before the WAUG games can take place here. Following its completion, we came today (last Tuesday) to formally hand over the building that will house the High Performance Centre to the University. We are aware that Senate of the University has approved a number of programmes for the Sports Institute and we want to keep the Institute running and by doing so, we hope to introduce some innovations and maintain standards,” the Board Chairman promised.

Also speaking, Executive Director of Olympafrica Foundation, Therno Diack, expressed satisfaction with the partnership, disclosing that it was the conquering prowess of UniPort that attracted the benevolence of the Foundation which operates in 45 countries. “We have been partnering various institutions, but this is the first University in West Africa with a clear-cut mandate to train future sportsmen and women. Now that we have completed and handed over this building, athletes from other West African countries would be converging on this High Performance Centre to train,” Diack added.

Representative of the Nigerian Olympic Committee, Mr. Tunde Popoola, who praised the University for training highly skilled sports men and women, revealed that most of the athletes representing the country at the Olympics and other fiestas in recent times were trained in the University of Port Harcourt.

“UniPort is a centre of excellence in sports and that was why we got an Intern from here when an opening occurred at the Commonwealth Games Secretariat. This is an academic institution that has the vision which others still do not have and we have taken note of the strong fraternal relationship that exists between the University and sports lovers in Rivers State,” Mr. Popoola observed, stating that despite the decline in engagement in sporting activities in the country, the University had continued to up its sporting ante.

In his remarks, Director of the Sports Institute, Professor Anugweje, recalled that the new building was a product of a commitment made at the London Olympics in 2012 which was reinforced at the negotiation of an Olympafrica Centre to build a complex to house the High Performance Centre and the Olympafrica Centre in the University.

Others who spoke at the ceremony included former Chairman of the Sports Complex Management Committee, Professor Anikpo, the Contractor, Chief Emma Mbila and Consultant, Architect Mike Ogbechie. Guests were later conducted round the new two-storey complex.

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