19th June, 2012
Traders in and around the U.J. Esuene Stadium, Calabar, Cross River State, are raking cool cash from their sales as the 66th edition of the Mobil Track & Field Championships get underway today.
Some of the traders, who spoke with P.M.Sports early today, said the sales boost was expected based on the large turnout of athletes and fans at the venue of the 2012 Olympic Games Trials.
Imanbong Eniette, who sells sachet water, popularly known as ‘pure water’ disclosed that despite the cold weather being experienced in the state, demand for the commodity has been on the rise.
“‘On a normal day, I hardly sell two bags, but I can tell you that as early as 7:30 am, athletes have invaded my shop asking to buy more, it is just the first day of the meet and I know it is our time to smile to the bank,” she happily said.
Eniette is not the only trader, who stored consumables and sports kits for this period in Calabar. Edet Ibong, who sells jerseys and other sports wears around the stadium said athletes have been patronising him since last night.
“Some athletes I believe came here in a hurry and left behind their training kits. I’m now their saviour and it is not my making but it is business, so I have to make my money from them now,” he said.
Food vendors are not left out in the boom because athletes, who are hungry have no choice than to go to the restaurants to eat.
Manager of Esplendido Spot, near the stadium, urged other sporting associations to bring their events to the U.J. Esuene Stadium ‘because since the sports edifice became operational, their sales on a daily basis have risen.’
In the words of the manager, who craved anonymity, “we have been making huge sales since this stadium started hosting sporting events, especially when the Super Eagles played their matches. Thousands of fans have been patronising us. So, I’m calling on other federations to take a cue from Nigeria Football Federation and the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN.”
Meanwhile, the finals of the 100m female and male events will hold today with a fierce battle between 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medallist and reigning Nigerian 100m champion, Blessing Okagbare and US-based Gloria Asummu.
President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria, AFN, Solomon Ogba, has given reasons for the increase in prize money for the tourney.
Ogba said the federation decided to increase the money in order to encourage and increase competition among the athletes participating in the annual athletics meet.
He is of the opinion that the $20,000 increase will go a long way in challenging the athletes to give in their best.
“We decided to increase the prize money because we want to get the best of the athletes participating. It is not an inducement but a way of spurring them to give their all”.