The sleepy, serene, rural community of Idumuje Ugboko, in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State, came alive in a bubbling gusto of excitment, as it witnessed an event of historic significance, with the official performance of the ground-breaking ceremony for the Ned Nwoko Sports University.
The ground breaking ceremony for the STARS University, which took place on April 3, 2018 in Idumuje Ugboko, was performed by the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who used the opportunity of the occassion to once again highlight the importance of sports in national development, even as he charged future students of the Sports University, to always strive to excel in order to justify the privilege of attending a specialized University, established with the objective of producing the best in the world of sports.
Governor Okowa, who was represented by the Delta state Commissioner for Higher Education, Engr. Jude Sinebe, noted that the name STARS University had already identified the intent of institution as a breeding ground for champions and raised the bar for aspiring and intending students once the academic programme kicks off fully.
The governor equally hailed Prince Ned Nwoko, the Pioneer House of Representatives member to represent Aniocha/Oshimili Federal Constituency in the National Assembly and presently a senatorial hopeful for the Delta North Senatorial ticket, for being the first Nigerian to establish a specialised sports university in the country and with the location in Idumuje Ugboko, thus making Delta State the first state to host such an institution.
”This groundbreaking event is a call to service. Let those who are blessed in our various communities in Nigeria come back home and invest in their communities.
“Let us bring our investments back home to develop our communities so that those who cannot afford to travel around can have the benefits of such facilities back home. This Sports University would be the first in sub-Saharan Africa, when completed,” the governor noted, urging well meaning and wealthy Deltans to emulate Nwoko and bring such projects home to Delta State.
In his welcoming comments the founder of STARS University, Prince Ned Nwoko, thanked all for coming and recalled how John Fashanu and Chioma Ajunwa, among others, had done the country proud globally with their exploits in sports, adding that both Fashunu and Ajunwa had remained his friends because they were sources of inspiration to him.
He said: “Many Nigerians are out there representing this country in various fields of sports, we have the raw talents, characters and we have children that we have to train”.
Speaking further at the impressively attended event, Nwoko told the people that the university is for people who would study all courses along with sports. He said: “You can study Biology with sports, you can study any course along with sports,” noting that it will give interested students opportunity to study two courses at the same time.
He said Delta state has been best in sports and still remain the best, adding that beginning from when it was Bendel state, the state was clinching the best position and now that it has been splitted into two, Edo and Delta, Delta is not lagging behind.
According to him, the university would concentrate on sports and conventional courses, adding that students will be admitted into any discipline of their choice with sports as joint honours.
In his own comments, the Chairman of the occassion Capt. Idahosa (Hosa) Wells Okumbo commended Prince Ned Nwoko, the proprietor of the university, not only for his progressive foresight in establishing the specialized institution but indeed for the love and passion he has for his people and community by opting to locate the University in his home town of Idumuje Ugboko.
Captain Okunbo, who himself is a renowned business magnate, investor, philanthropist and trained commercial pilot, further noted that the decision to locate the University in Idumuje Ugboko, would not only bring global attention and recognition to the community but would equally generate youth employment, enhance robust commercial activity and accelerate a quicker developmentof the community, all of which will commence now that the ground breaking ceremony of the University has been performed and while adding that Ned Nwoko was not looking for what his people would do for him but what he would do for them, affirmed the fact that the establishment of the specialized university has, without doubt firmly located Idumuje Ugboko in the map of the world.
Expressing his excitment at the occassion of the ground breaking ceremony, former Nigerian football international player and well respected global football ambassador, Mr. John Fashanu said that he was extremely happy to witness the ground breaking ceremony of an institution, which he whole heartedly endorsed as citadel that was specifically dedicated to teaching and promoting excellence and acedemic brilliance in his beloved field of sports.
Fashanu said: “I would call today’s event unique because this is the first time in Africa, we would have a sports university solely for men and women who have the capacity to do something extra in sports. This is a blessed country and we have wonderful sportsmen and women, but no opportunities. So this university will give everybody a level playing field which is absolutely wonderful.”
The former Super Eagles international, who enjoyed a hugely successful playing career in the English Premier League with clubs including, Norwich city, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Wimbledon, with whom he won the English FA Cup in 1988 and scoring over 100 fantastic goals along the way, expressed his willingness to be directly involved in the affairs and development of the new institution because, according to him, “this is sports and I have two decades of playing football. As I said before, the potentials we have in this country are phenomenal which would never be fulfilled because we do not have enough sports universities.”
High point of the epoch making ceremony, which attracted corporate moguls, royalty, captains of industry and top politicians and public officers amongst others, was the formal foundation stone laying ceremony performed by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa through his representative Engr. Jude Sinebe and supervised by the team of ULO, the reported Construction company for the STARS University, as Prince Ned Nwoko and his special guests looked on and applauded with satisfaction.
The ground breaking event signals the formal construction work on the takeoff site of the university, with the blocks for administration, classrooms and hall of residence of the proposed university.
The commencement of the project is coming on the heels of the approval granted to the premier university of sports in the sub-Saharan Africa by the National Universities Commission (NUC), on November 3, 2017.
The ground breaking ceremony for STARS University was preceded by the Ned Nwoko Swimming Competition, where the outstanding winner, Miss Anita Okpochini, a senior secondary school student of Akashede Girls College in Obiaruku, Ukwuani local government area of Delta state, won two gold medals and was instantly awarded a scholarship by Prince Ned Nwoko, to pursue her university education in any university of her choice from first year to her final year.
Miss Okpochini, who achieved this feat following her accomplishment of winning two gold medals at the swimming event, one for relay race and the other for free style event, hence emerging the best in the keenly contested competition at mount Delta, Idumuje Ugboko, was awarded the scholarship at the swimming competition, organized as part of the activities lined up for the ground breaking ceremony of the STARS University.