– By Norbert Chiazor
SPORTS UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA (SUN), first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa has taken off with admission of students, in a historic debut.
Located at Idumuje- Ugboko in Aniocha North local government area of Delta state, Southern Nigeria, the Sports university is the initiative of famous philanthropist and business mogul, Hon. Prince Ned Nwoko.
The campus is a spectacle citadel.Magnificent structures of classrooms, auditorium, staff quarters, hostels,administrative blocks as well as sundry sports infrastructure have sprung up at the serene university, which beckons in lavish splendour, less than 30 minutes drive from Asaba international Airport.
Sitting on an expansive plane,nestled in the tropical rain forest region of Delta North also known as Anioma,the Sports university has an enchanting landscape, that cascades far afield, overlooking the greenery horizon of neighbouring Edo communities like Ewohimi and Ohordua.A scenic view so stunning in exterior and wondrous in imagination.
A perfect sanctuary to groom young and budding talents in sports. The university combines sports and learning in a unique academic mix ,unprecedented in the annals of Nigerian university system.The university is structured to offer certificate,diploma and degree courses in sports as well as conventional academic curriculum with ( 4) four faculties, (30) thirty departments and (32) programmes.The first set of students would receive scholarships,courtesy of Prince Nwoko.
To strengthen its long term objectives, an arm of the Sports university, designated HIGH PERFORMANCE CENTRE has been established.The centre provides standard facilities,the latest technology and innovations in sports training and development.Physical sports available at the institution : Football, Swimming,Boxing Badminton,Basketball,Lawn Tennis, Table Tennis,Track and Field events,Volleyball,Wrestling,Golf,Hockey,Gymnastics,Taekwando, Squash, Rugby, Cricket and Baseball.
The birthing of the university is a long drawn story in courage,tenacity and focus. 23 years ago, Nwoko had muted the idea while serving as member ,House of Representatives, Aniocha/Oshimili federal constituency in 1999. As a parliamentarian,he had sponsored a bill for the establishment of a Sports university in Nigeria.
Bureaucratic hiccups and political subterfuge, all too familiar with the Nigerian system, would abort the conception as the bill was not passed. But a determined Ned Nwoko,superlative game changer who knows how to score goals ,kept his eyes on the ball.
On May 21,2022, the federal government,through the National Universities Commission,NUC,granted operational license to the country ‘s premier sports university,placing Delta state and Nigeria on the world map.
Nwoko, a British trained lawyer,educated at the university of Keele,England and Kings College, university of London,where he had an honours degree and a Masters in Maritime and Commercial Law was a gifted footballer in his youth.
Playing in parts of Nigeria, especially in the Eastern region,Nwoko grew up with innate fascination for sports. Beyond soccer, he is a keen Lawn Tennis player and swimmer.He has mentored a sizeable number of sports enthusiasts till date, including several celebrities and every day people,in his his private Tennis Courts and Pools at Abuja and idumuje -Ugboko country home.
Whether as exceptional sports administrator, time honoured politician , international lawyer and patron of public charities, Prince Nwoko has proved enigmatic.
The Sports university, anticipated to take Nigeria to global heights in sports is particularly a giant leap for all Nigerians.