Akwa United Football Club of Uyo have dedicated their 2016/2017 NPFL season to God in a prayer thanksgiving service which was held at the Apostolic Church, Ibiakpan in Ikot Ekpene Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
Chairman of the club Mr. Paul Bassey led the management and players of the team to the thanksgiving service which was also attended by the Honorable Commissioner for Youth and Sports Sir Monday Ebong Ukoh, the Director of Sports Coach Aniedi Dickson, as well as the deputy Director in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Coach Lawrence Iquaibom.
In a remark, the Commissioner Sir Monday Ukoh expressed appreciation to God for His love, mercy and guidance to the ministry and also commended the state government for the effort and attention given to youth development in the state through investment in various sports.
Sir Monday Ukoh who restated the state government’s commitment in developing sports in the state so as to empower the youths also urged the Church and christian community in the state to continue to pray for the success of Akwa United football club.
The youth and sport commissioner thanked players and management of the club for committing the new football league season to God in prayer.
“I am impressed with the way Akwa United is beginning the New Year in the presence of God. They could have chosen to begin the year elsewhere with merriment but they decided to start the new season with God and I am sure that the Lord will answer our prayer and grant us His blessings this season” the Commissioner said.
” I cannot end this speech today without thanking our governor His Excellency Mr. Udom Emmanuel for giving me the opportunity to serve in the state executive council for a second time. I also want to use this opportunity to expressed my gratitude to God for sparing my life and that of the governor during the collapse of the Reigners Bible Church building in Uyo last month. I also pray that the Lord should receive the souls of all those who lost their lives during the unfortunate incident” the Commissioner conclude.
The Commissioner however announced a donation of One Million Naira to the church.
Addressing the congregation, chairman of Akwa United Mr. Paul Bassey explained that the decision of the club to thank God was as a result of the many blessings and protection God granted them last season.
Mr. Bassey disclosed that Akwa United faced many challenges on and off the field of play last season but maintained that God was with the team throughout the turbulent season.
The chairman thanked God for the 2015/2016 season which he said was an injury free season for the players of the club. He also added that injury to any player can affect the progress of a team and can also destroy the career of any player no matter how good such a player may be.
He also thank the state government for supporting the team and revealed that Akwa United is the only club in the country that does not owe its players any entitlement.
” We are here to appreciate God for what he did for us in the out going football year. If I attempt to stand here to chronicle all that happened to this club last season, we will not leave this Church today. This is because the journey was difficult for us as humans but God was in control of everything for us. It was a year in which so many terrible things happened and one of such was a fatal accident which involved our supporters club bus along Ekparakwa road on their way to a match in Port Harcourt in which we lost one fan while many others sustain various degree of injuries, but God was with us”.
Mr. Bassey prayed for journey mercies for the club ahead of new season which the team will travel to many parts of the country to prosecute matches and also made a cash donation to the Church.
In a sermon, the minister in charge Apostle Gabriel Umana who took his reflection from the book of Isaiah chapter 40 verse 31 encouraged the team to wait on the Lord so that their strength may be renewed.
Apostle Umana urged the players and management of the club to always put God first in all they do so that God will position them for victory and glory.
The man of God offered a special prayer for the team and also prayed for God’s favour, blessings, and protection on the team in the coming 2016/2017 season.
A minute silence was observed in honour of the late cashier of the club Mr. Ndifreke who died last month.
The thanksgiving service was attended by stakeholders within the football family in the state including the supporters club, members of Sport Writers Association of Nigeria SWAN, and members of All Stars amongst others