By Hananeel Jackson
Bayelsa State in the last twenty five years has basked in the euphoria of exceptional performances in sports as a result of dedicated athletes.
The state was created on October 1, 1996 and participated in the first National Sports Festival in 1998 where the contingent finish 5th with 19 gold medals.
In the 2006 Gateway Games in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Bayelsa came 4th with the present governor, Douye Diri as Commissioner for Sports.
Fifteen years later, the State beat thirty four other states to finish third in the overall medals table in Benin City, Edo State with a total of one hundred and sixty nine medals, comprising fifty six gold, fifty five hi silver and fifty eight bronze.
Ocean boys of Brass in 2006, against all odds were crowned the Nigeria Professional Football League champions and represented the country in CAF Champions league.
The team however went ahead to win the Federations Cup now renamed the Aiteo Cup in 2008 beating Gombe United 7-6 on penalties after the game ended two all.
The quest for glory continued in 2009 when Bayelsa United football club emerged Nigeria Professional Football champions and later represented the country in the CAF champions league getting to the semi finals but were eliminated by eventual champions Entenne Setif of Algeria.
The Yenagoa based side in 2014 played in the group stage of the CAF confederation cup but failed to scale the group stage following a defeat by Ivorian side Sewe Sports.
History was made this year when Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens won the Aiteo cup in Benin City same day.
Administratively Bayelsans have held different positions at the National level 25 years after creation with Victor Rumson Baribote as second vice president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Admiral Festus Poubeni, President, Nigeria Rowing and Swimming Federation, Daniel igali, President, Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Dr Peter Singabele member CAF Medical committee.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games in Tokyo, Blessing Oborududu gave Nigeria the only silver medal in the ancient games. Few days ago, young chess prodigy, Deborah Quickpen was crowned African champion in Accra, Ghana.
Accessing the journey after 25 years, Director of Sports, Bayelsa State council, Sir Braveman Wodi said the state had achieved more in sports describing the feat of Bayelsa state sports after 25 years as massive.
Sir Wodi called on the private sector to invest in sports development as part of their social responsibility to the people of the state.
Former Bayelsa United Vice chairman and Chairman, Trade union Congress TUC Mr Laye Julius noted that despite the successes recorded in the sports sector, funding has been a major problem, especially to develop facilities across the eight local government areas in the state.
The Zonal Vice President, Youth Sports Federation Mr, Kali Gwegwe said there was need for the government to build another stadium in the state to enable athletes compete effectively with their peers in other states.
Also, veteran sports journalist, Loveday Herbert commended athletes and coaches for their zeal and dedication despite the numerous hurdles they had to pass through in placing Bayelsa state in the medals table in sporting events.
Others called on government to declare a state of emergency in the sector by providing more facilities and adequate funding.