Funmi Ogundare

The Atlantic Hall, Epe, Lagos is set to begin the construction of what it described as the biggest sports complex in any Nigerian school, to promote grassroots sports and early talent discovery.

The kick-off of the construction was marked recently by a tree planting exercise at the project site in the school premises.

The exercise, which coincided with the 26th valedictory and graduation ceremony of the 2017/2018 set of students at the school, was witnessed by the Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh as a special guest for the N2.5 billion sports complex project.

The sports complex to be constructed on 15 hectares of land on the vast school campus, when completed, will have five football pitches, an eight-lane tartan track, 1,000 square meter multi-purpose indoor sports hall, basketball courts, six tennis courts, volleyball and handball courts, a gymnasium, a pavilion with 1,200-capacity bleacher, an Olympic size swimming pool and a wall of fame for outstanding athletes and sports men and women that the school produces.

The pavilion would also include male and female changing rooms for students and adults, offices, adequate equipment storage space, among others.

In her remarks, the PTA Chairperson, Mrs. Maureen Akpofure-Awobokun, said the sports complex is conceived to compete with any of its kind worldwide, adding that when completed, it will be a source of pride to all Nigerians and Africans.

“A journey of a thousand miles they say starts with the first step. Today, we take the first step towards the actualisation of our dream for an ultra-modern sports complex in Atlantic Hall. The step is building a legacy, a legacy of champions.”

On the tree planting exercise, she said the commencement of the construction of the sports complex was in line with the architectural masterplan. “The tree planting is symbolic; trees represent life. By planting these trees today, we are breathing life into the project.”

The Principal, Mr. Andrew Jedras said the project when completed will not only keep the students physically and mentally fit, but enhance their social competence.

In a chat with journalists, Tandoh commended the school for its vision and commitment to sports development, adding that the state sports commission is happy to associate with the school on the project.

“It is something that is worth celebrating. I have seen the plans and drawings for the Atlantic Hall Sports complex. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has made a pledge to support this project both technically and financially working through the state sports commission. So for us, on this project, we are partnering with Atlantic Hall. When this sports centre is up, it will be made available to the whole community.”

The school’s Educational Trust Council in a statement said the sports complex would promote early talent discovery, grassroots youth development, healthy living among young people and serve as an efficient way of engaging young people against societal vices.

The school has over the years produced outstanding sports and academic talents, including the fastest man in Nigeria, Seye Ogunlewe, Anaeto Ikechukwu, Farida Dankaro, Hafiz Fusigboye, Osi Umenyiora, Chetanna Chukwudum, Ify Eze, Uju Nneji, Lillian Ofiani, Rasheedat Gbadamosi, Imo Ekong, Elizabeth Idoko, Akan Ekure, Iketubosin Benebo, among others.

Other young talented athletes at the school currently include Chukwudi Anunagba, fastest boy in Lagos and Dan Princewell Goba, the fastest sprinter in 400 metres; Awe Onajevwe Anne, school head girl, among others.