The Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC), for the 2018 West Africa University Games (WAUG), Professor Regina Ogali, says the host institution, University of Port Harcourt, needs fimnancial support from government and corporate organisations to stage a successful event.
“We need funds to retouch our facilities and venues, including the enormous logistics that would go with the event,” Prof. Ogali said. “Time is against us now, and we need money to accomplish a lot of things. As a University, we are set to host over 5,000 athletes, 800 technical officials and coaches, including an estimated one million spectators and revellers that are expected to witness the various events over 10 days.
“As three-time consecutive champions, we hope to use the WAUG Games to showcase the uniqueness of UniPort, and our unmatched sporting facilities and competitive spirit. We have done all that is within our power of organisation to put up a memorable event, and we expect everything to go according to plan throughout the games.
“We have serious funding constraints, but our spirits have not been dampened in anyway by this development. We are strongly hopeful of last-minute financial interventions from private and public-spirited individuals and groups. The Federal and Rivers State Governments are our major targets for funds, and we are using all available avenues to reach out to them for support. This is a national event, and we cannot afford to fail. People will remember that the WAUG Games held in UniPort, but if anything goes wrong, they will call out Nigeria and Rivers State for criticism,” Professor Ogali stated after rising from a crucial meeting of the LOC, which reviewed final preparations for the Games and the readiness of Uniport to welcome University athletes from the West African sub-region.
The LOC boss did not disclose the amount of money needed by Uniport to host the Games, but The Guardian learnt the LOC needs over N700 million. “In 2012, the federal government gave University N500 million in addition to what Kwara State government gave them. Things have changed, and we need above that amount to host a successful games, a source close to the LOC said yesterday.
The LOC has, however, promised that the 14th edition of the WAUG Games would go down as probably the best organised and attended in the history of the 65-year old sub-regional sporting fiesta.
Team UniPort is looking forward to defend its championship position at the event billed to commence on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 at the University Sports Centre. All athletes are expected to be on ground three days before the opening ceremony on Saturday, November 3, 2018 that would witness lighting of the games torch, star parade, cultural dances, art exhibition, goodwill messages, acrobatics and spectacular fireworks display, amongst other events lined up by the organisers to entertain the spectators.
It would be recalled that UniPort hosted the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) in 1988 and 2004, respectively, and has won six times, while Team UniPort has notched up three consecutive WAUG championships with pole positions on the medals table on each occasion, including the last Games hosted by the University of Ilorin in 2012.
It will end on November 12.
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