Mountain of Fire and Miracle, MFM, FC may be bad travellers, but have turned the Agege Stadium to a fortress and the Olukoya Babes did not disappoint in their CAF Champions League encounter against Real Bamako of Mali with a one nil victory to qualify on a 2-1 goals aggregate after a 1-1 draw in Mali.
The Lagos State Government lived up to its promise at ensuring that the upgrading of the Agege Township Stadium was almost completed for CAF Champions League in February.
Bolaji Yusuf, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Facility and Infrastructure, had given the assurance at an interactive session with newsmen during facility tour of the stadium, which is the home ground of the Nigeria Professional Football League Club, MFM, would be ready for their Champions League campaign.
“The major upgrading work is completed; more than 60 per cent of structural work is done already,” he had said.
In as much as the readiness of the stadium was cheerry news what is most important is the maintenance of the stadium as most Lagos State sports facilities is in comatose state and must not allow Agege to go same way.
It is pertinent for the Senior Special Assistant on Sports Facilities to the and Chairman, adhoc committee for the Agege Stadium facelift to directly supervise the maintenance of the stadium going forward and all other Lagos State sporting infrastructures.
Recently, former Nigeria international, Dosu Joseph, decried the decision of the Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC) to close the Iseri Mini Stadium, constructed by the Lagos State government because the facility needed to be watered.
Joseph said the decision was an attempt to truncate the sporting career of youths in the area.
“To close a stadium for three weeks just because they want to wet its grass is very funny and ridiculous. This is very bad precedence that is being set and which could affect other community sports centre all around Lagos State”, he said.
If only the governor can put the round peg in a round hole such ridiculous and shameful show as the closure of a mini stadium for three weeks because it needed to be watered would not be coming up.
The new terms of relationship issued to the FC Bescola Soccer School operating at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, demanding N2.4m and N3m annually, for their use of office space and the main bowl of the facility, respectively should also be looked into by the governor. A similar sum of N3m has also been charged on Joseph as annual fee for use of the RVTC sports ground at Isheri, Ojodu-Berger.
These charges have thrown fear into the community of academy and grassroots sports development operators as to how to sustain talent hunting and nurturing in a city that is in serious deficit of community and schools sports centres.
An academy operator who pleaded anonymity said that “this development officially brings denial effect on the sports development of kids. Academies and grassroots sports promoters will now have to pay more to train children and hold competitions on government grounds. N3m per annum is about N250,000 a month. How will this money come? Even if we charge parents higher to train the kids, its only the super-rich that can afford that kind of charge. That invariably means sports is being removed from the poor and inner city kids.”
The Teslim Balogun Stadium swimming pool is now regularly used for picnics and partying rather than for hosting regular competitions and training and development of future swimmers that would represent the state and indeed the country at local and international competitions.
Lagos State is very lucky to have the kind of governor they have but it’s very important for the governor to put a round peg in round hole in terms of maintenance of sporting infrastructures as the state has facilities to host any international sporting events at a very short notice.
However, the inability to maintain these sporting facilities is as good as not having them, hence, reason for Governor Ambode to look deep.