25th July, 2011
The history of Nigeria, without doubt, is incomplete if the National Stadium in Lagos is not mentioned. The reason is not far to seek considering the fact that the stadium is part of the countryâ€™s heritage. It is an important part of Nigerian football, which is dear to many who love sports.
The stadium, which occupies a large area of land in Surulere, in the nationâ€™s former capital city, was originally built for the use of the public and to cater to sporting activities in the country. Since it was constructed, the stadium has had its own fair shares of playing host to several historic sporting events in the country.
It has played host to both local and international sporting activities. Among these historic events were the 1973 All Africa Games and the finals of the 1980 and 2000 African Cup of Nations.
Apart from this, the stadium has played host to many African Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers. However, the stadium is not limited to the hosting of football matches alone since other sports are also well represented at the stadium. There are offices belonging to other sports situated within its premises.
However, today, it is another story entirely. The one-time national heritage has now become a national disgrace. It is, in fact, not an overstatement to say that the stadium, which was formerly the pride of the nation, has now degenerated to the shame of the nation.
When P.M. Sports visited the stadium last week, the edifice, which used to be a cynosure of all eyes was smelling of decay and absolute neglect. On entering the gymnasium, it was apparent that the gym was not receiving enough care and attention from appropriate authorities. The sparkle that made the gym a beauty to behold in the yesteryear has long faded away.
Inside the gym, the training equipment can no longer go round the athletes. Today, it is not uncommon to see a number athletes lurking around while others are training. The new tradition is for athletes to take turns in their training. They undertake their training one after the other so that every athlete can in turn train..
One of the weightlifters, Kashimawo Kuhisa, told P.M.Sports about his feelings on the decrepit state of the gym. Kuhisa, said the gym need total renovation.
â€œThis gym needs to be brought back to good condition. Many athletes now do their training outside in the open air. The reason is that the present state of the gym is no longer conducive for training any longer. This is unlike what we used to have in the past. Look at the roof, it is licking. Any time it is raining, this gym will be filled with water,â€ Kuhisa said.
Asked what he thought the government could do to improve the present condition at the gym, Kuhisa said: â€œWe donâ€™t have enough weights to train in this gym. The bars have broken. The platforms also are not strong. We cannot train on them. We need about ten sets of weights and bars in this gym.â€
Another athlete, Gabriel Jacob, a wrestler, believes the appointment of a new Sports Minister may not have any positive effect on the stadium. According to him athletes and sports lovers would only be having a pipe dream if they are expecting any extraordinary feat from the new minister.
â€œThis is not the first time we are having a new sports minister. In the past when a new Minister resumed office he would pay a working visit to the Sports City, where he would make a lot of promises, empty ones indeed with no results. They have been coming here as soon as they assume the reins of power. Their coming has not changed any thing at all,â€ Jacob said.
However, Jacob advised athletes and sports loving Nigerians not to lose hope over the stadium.
According to the wrestler, the decrepit situation of the stadium can still change if Nigerians can exercise enough patience and see what the new Minister, Yusuf Suleiman will do in his time.
â€œWe must not lose hope over the stadium. It is part of our national heritage and we must not lose hope over it,â€ Jacob said.