By Otobong Nsekpong
Going to GodswillAkpabioInternational Stadium (Nest of Champion) to watch Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) matches involving Akwa United is now a routine to many football loving AkwaIbom people.
For me, there is no meeting be it social, cultural or political that can keep me away from the Nest of Champion, the home ground of Akwa United which has become a fortress since the beginning of the 2018 season.
AkwaUnited has won all its matches since the beginning of the 2017/18 season scoring more goals with each passing game. For instance, the season’s opener against Enugu Rangers ended 2:0 in favour of the Promise Keepers, though the team narrowly lost 1:0 away from home to newly promoted Go Round FC, YobeDesert Stars became the scapegoat when they visited Nest of Champion on match day 3, losing 2:0.
Match Day 4 was the most exciting as the Promise Keepers secured three solid point on the road against Niger Tornadoes. Then came the 3:0 humiliation of Kwara United in Match day 5 at the Nest of Champions and one all draw with FC IfeanyiUbah at Nnewi on match day 6.
Back home for Match day 7, the Promise Keepers, knowing the value of superior goal difference banged in four un-replied goals against visiting Wikki Tourist FC to maintain their place on top of the table.
According to the media officer of Akwa United, Mfon Patrick, the success story of the club may not be unconnected with the motivation the players get from the club. “Promise Keepers players are highly motivated through prompt payment of salaries, match bonuses and other allowances. “Akwa United players are paid their salaries, bonuses and allowancesas at when due. It has never been delayed compared to other clubs in the country” he revealed.
This position by the media officer of the Promise Keepers was upheld by the coach of Kwara United, John Obuh who after losing to Akwa United said his team lost to a better and highly motivated team.
For the Promise keepers technical Adviser, Abdul Maikaba, the target for the team is to win the NPFL trophy at the end of the season. To achieve this aim, the team has a philosophy where its success is built round the team not individual players.
It is worthy of note that it is not only the coach that has set the target of winning the league title as players have also set personal target. One of such players is Kelly Kester, the newly signed defensive midfielder who says he came to Akwa United from Enyimbato win titles. “We (Akwa United) have a team to win titles this season. That is exactly why I came here” he reiterated.
Another player Ubong Friday says he wants to end the season with nothing less than 15 goals for Akwa United.
As part of the strategies adopted to ensure victory for Akwa United, the club last Friday signed an agreement with Dana Airline to fly the team on its away matches. This partnership will go a long way to ensure that the team arrives early enough to rest and train for their away encounters. It has always been a difficult situation for the team where they sometimes travel for as long as two days on the road, including road mishap that can further lengthen their stay on the road.
During the contract signing ceremony at the conference hall of Nest of Champion, chief operating officer of Dana Airlines, Mr. Obi Mbanuzo said the season long sponsorship deal will afford Akwa United the opportunity to enjoy top class travelling services in their quest to emerge NPFL champions in the 2017/18 season.
The chairman of Akwa United, Elder Paul Bassey deserves special commendation for leading the club that before now was struggling in the relegation waters. Last season, the club under his watch not only won the Aiteo cup but finished 4th on the table.
Elder Bassey has set standard in the way the team is run and has brought his wealth of experience in the sports world to bear in the management of the team for optimal result.
The current feat did not come as a surprise to many football fans in the state. The government of Mr. Udom Emmanuel known for its passion in sports development has breadth life into a team that had struggled in time past to remain in the professional league.
The heavy investment of the state government in sports which covers the building of ten sports centres across the state, organizing of Youth Sports Festival for primary and secondary school children point to the fact that the government is prepared to raise a new generation of AkwaIbom people who earn a living through sports. AkwaIbom people should identify with the team’s success by coming out in their numbers to cheer the team to victory when they play in Uyo. Let’s make Nest of Champion a fortress for our darling Akwa United coming out in large number to cheer the team to victory.