2nd June, 2010
The glamour that could have climaxed the final of the Kidsports Charity Cup for the Orphanages ended in disappointment for the orphans on Sunday at the Campos Square Mini Stadium, Lagos, Nigeria.
Trouble started when the Facilities General Manager of Lagos State Stadiums, Godson Uti, ordered the kids and officials as well as hundreds of fans who came to the stadium out of the complex, saying the final would not hold at the venue.
His excuses were that his club, the Lagos All Stars, which hasÂ Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos as member, wanted to use the stadium for training.
The final of the tournament, designed for the orphans to have a feel and sense of belonging in the society, was about to be heldÂ when Uti walked on to the pitch and ordered the referee to stop the match. He also ordered the kids, officials and their supporters to leave the arena immediately, saying he was arranging the venue for the arrival of Fashola, who was scheduled to feature in the club’s end of the month match.
The presence of the Chairman, Lagos State Sports Council, LSSC, Agboola Dabiri, who came to the event to represent the Commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development, Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele, Prince â€˜Wale Oladunjoye, the Senior Special Assistant on Grassroots Spots Development to Governor Fashola and other dignitaries, could not prevent the show of shame that left many people at the venue disappointed.
The top two senior government officials pleaded with Uti to see reasons and allow the the orphans to conclude the Charity Cup but Uti remained adamant, insisting that the tournament should be stopped immediately. He argued that he did not give the organisers the approval to use the venue.
Uti, who should have expressed sympathy for the less privileged did not shift ground until some members of the All Stars International, notably Henry Nwosu and a few others, prevailed on him before the tournament was decided viaÂ penalty shootout without the normal final match.
The Facility Manager in charge of Campos Square Mini Stadium, Bolaji Yusuf later told P.M.Sports that the organisers got the approval of the Commissioner for Sports on humanitarian ground, adding that Uti was duly informed. He said due instruction was sent to the organisers to round off the event before 3p.m. to give way for the All Stars match.
Ajike Ayisat Afolabi Foundation of Idimu however emerged winners after beating Safe Our Soul, SOS of Isolo on penalty shootout.
This yearâ€™s Charity Cup, which was supported by the Lagos State Ministry of Youths, Sports and Social Development, Hitv, Nigeria Bottling Company and Indomie, was a delight to watch.
Coordinator of the project, Miss Bukola Alabi, who weptÂ because of Utiâ€™s action, thanked the sponsors for their support and care, saying the orphans need to be supported with series of sporting activities to keep them in good shape and also to make them feel a sense of belonging.
One of the kids at the event, Paul Tomiwa described the attitude of Uti as unfortunate, adding that if government officialsÂ act this way all the time, the future of Nigerian sports is very bleak.