Rangers’ Victory at Nigeria Premiere League and Its Implications for Enugu People.
Enugu Rangers, another Champion!!!”
This chant used to be a regular feature in Enugu and the entire South East and South-South Nigeria in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Then, every weekend held up fun and opportunity for Rangers fans and football lovers in the region to celebrate “yet another” victory of Rangers, the “flying antelopes”. However, with time, the flying Antelopes became endangered species and for thirty two years, Enugu Rangers never won the Nigerian Premier League. Today, the glory has returned and we shall sing “holy-holy-holy, Enugu Rangers, another Champion” come Sunday, October 2, 2016 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu.
Enugu Rangers emerged as the Champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League for the 2015/16 season after beating Ikorodu United 2-1 at the MKO Abiola Stadium on Sunday, September 25, 2016. This is the club’s first victory in the competition in 32-years. Rangers will be crowned Champions after their match with Rivers United, of which the outcome will, more-or- less, have no consequence. According to Premium Times, “Rangers with the win in Abeokuta have 60 points and a much superior goal difference than any other contender. Even if Rangers lose their last game at home next weekend against El-Kanemi, Rivers United, the only team capable of getting to 60 points, will have to beat Akwa United by as much as a 5-goal margin to overtake Rangers at the top. Rivers United have not beaten any team by such margin this season” and it is unlikely that it will happen on the last day of the League. It is also important that with this victory, Rangers will represent Nigeria in the CAF Champions League next season – “a competition the club has had 2 appearances in, from 2006 to 2013”.
The journey back to glory has not been an easy one! Kudos must therefore be given to Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his Government, the management team of rangers, the management and staff of the club, the supportive fans and most especially the present crop of glorious players of Rangers. Football as with other sports has the potential for social change “when systematically included in processes of social change” as we have in Enugu State. It has the power to unite people and cultures all over the world. As a team sport, it also “promotes fairness and tolerance, leapfrogs gender boundaries and fosters mutual understanding, thereby contributing to the positive development of personality and character”.
Enugu (Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium) will now be host to international clubs participating in the CAF Champions League alongside Rangers. Being the “home ground” of Rangers this will impact on the lives of the people of Enugu in many positive ways. Enugu will be on the map once more with its attendant visibility globally; her tourism potentials shall be boosted as more visitors to the state shall be recorded; local economy shall be boosted too while the social impact of this remains huge. There is no doubt that sports, especially football, is a particularly important pillar in our society. It helps rally the people for collective goal and good – irrespective of gender, religion, tribe or ethnicity. Through its impact on social policy and social integration, sports can make an important contribution to achieving sustainable development objectives of the country – especially at this time of economic recession and re-orientation efforts of the federal government. “Football, as a team sport can also foster mutual understanding and strengthen social ties and reengineer and promote positive values, sportsmanship, fairness and tolerance”.
It is important to also note that, beyond the financial and moral support from the Enugu State Government under the leadership of our sports-loving governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; for Enugu State Government, “sport represents an important policy tool for achieving her development objectives”. Development of sports in the state, as the Governor is earnestly doing, can contribute to achieving the state’s policy objectives in health promotion, youth empowerment, prevention of youth restiveness, violence, education, gender equality, good governance and environmental awareness”. This is just the beginning of glories to come to Enugu State through sports.
- Commentary, written by Ike Ezugwu.