Dreams do come true! Residents of Araromi Community will attest to this. For a very long time they wished for their San Siro and today it’s a reality, courtesy of Coca-Cola Nigeria
F or the many football enthusiasts across the world, the San Siro stadium in Milan; one of the legendary stadia in the football world, stands for quality football experience; having hosted some of the game’s greatest.
In the same vein, the Araromi Community Sports Centre, which is also nicknamed the San Siro, after the Milan stadium is known to offer the best of quality football viewing in the country; at least, so the locals believe. Although, not as top notch in terms of aesthetic contemplation and land mass as the original San Siro, they both share something in common; a home of exciting football games.
“We nicknamed the pitch after the San Siro because of their slight similarity – quality football at its best. This explains the mammoth crowd that troop out to watch matches during many of the competitions hosted here. Just like the San Siro has hosted the greatest footballers of our time, the Araromi Community Sports Centre has seen amazing raw football talents grace its pitch. Now that Coca-Cola has stepped in to give it the extra pep of a world-class football facility, we are super excited and confident that the intervention would further raise the profile of the pitch as well as stimulate the development of the game at grassroots,” Kenneth Okorie, President, Gbagada Grassroots Sports Association, remarked at the commissioning of the sports centre, now branded Araromi Community Sports Centre.
Boasting of a 1000 seating capacity pavilion, equipped with borehole, functional water sanitation and hygiene facilities for the public and physically challenged, changing rooms for players and referees, two units of VIP Lounge, an administrative office and an 11 aside football pitch(75×45) equipped with flood lights and two sets of dugout for reserved players with a 10-man seating capacity each, the newly refurbished Araromi Community Sports Centre is one of the several sports facilities in Lagos that has been upgraded by Coca-Cola to drive Nigeria’s grassroots sports.
According to the beverage giant, the renovation of the pitch is in line with its commitments to empower and inspire the game at the grassroots, particularly among young players who wish to go professional.
At the commissioning, the Managing Director, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Bhupendra Suri pointed out that “For more than 50 years now, Coca-Cola has had a strong association with sports and particularly football in Nigeria. We however realized that to further drive Nigeria’s grassroots football and talent development, we needed to partner with the authorities to upgrade selected sports facilities across the country to give our young players access to world class sports facilities in their local communities.”
He stressed that the refurbished pitch now offers aspiring football talents in the community access to world class training facilities in addition to being exposed and mentored by some of the ex-internationals who have volunteered to train young local players in the facility from time to time.
Commending Coca-Cola for its pivotal role in developing grassroots sports facilities, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, who represented the Lagos State Governor, H.E Akinwunmi Ambode remarked that beyond helping to fulfill the State’s sports development objectives, the Araromi Community Sports Centre aligns with the vision of promoting sustainable communities through social enterprise development initiatives. Her words, “This is a welcome development for the people of Lagos State and in particular residents of Araromi community, Gbagada as it is sure to empower the youths within the community to earn a living and become relevant by contributing significantly to the economic growth of the nation.”
Reacting to the refurbishment of the Centre, ex-international star, Julius Aghaghowa stated that the intervention by Coca-Cola is timely and will certainly lead to the discovery of young football stars. “I remember back in the 90’s, 90 percent of the field had no grass on it. There was really nothing about the field to motivate us, the only motivation was our passion for the game. Today, it’s a different story, all thanks to Coca-Cola,” he quipped.
Reputed as one of the oldest sports facilities in Lagos state, the Centre has produced many notable football stars like Obafemi Martins, Segun Fetuga, Godwin Opara and a host of others.
It is hoped that with the renovation, a lot more budding stars will be discovered on the pitch even as the centre also serves as a platform to drive unity within the community.