26th November, 2012
The 18th National Sports Festival, tagged Eko 2012 begins in Lagos today.
The festival, which will feature over 12,000 athletes, officials and journalists from the 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, is expected to discover raw talents who would be groomed to represent the country in future international competitions.
Former internationals such as track queens; Mary Onyali-Omagbemi and Falilat Ogunkoya Osheku and late footballer, Haruna Ilerika, late Yomi Bankole, Atanda Musa (table-tennis), Nojeem Maiyegun, Obisia Nwankpa and Jeremiah Okorodudu (boxing), the Ezenwa brothers, late Oluyemi Kayoed, late Sunday Bada, and current national athletics coach, Innocent Egbunike (athletics), and Godwin Odiye to mention just a few, were products of the Sports Festival, who shone like million stars during their hey days for the country.
Although the opening ceremony of the Eko 2012 Games is scheduled for tomorrow, but the male and female football events of the festival kicked off at various centres across the metropolis early Monday.
However, some of the matches scheduled for early today at Onikan Stadium and Agege Stadium did not hold, as cases of walk-over took centre stage. Delta State football team staged a walk-over against Team Abia at Onikan Stadium. P.M.News can report that Abia State arrived the stadium by 10:30am for the match they were expected to play at 8am.
Team Plateau football team also had three points and three goals without kicking a ball, as they walked over Adamawa, while the female football match between Ogun State and Adamawa did not hold as Adamawa team failed to show up at the Agege Stadium.
There are strong indications that poor turnout of spectators at various venues may mar the festival judging from what was experience on the first day of the fiesta. Football, which is regarded as a popular game, witnessed very low turnout of fans at both the Onikan and Agege Stadia early today.
Apart from the security operatives who were on ground at Agege, no few than 20 fans showed up for the match at a 15,000 capacity stadium, while no single fan was seen at Onikan Stadium for the morning game.
Team Lagos football team are scheduled to take on Team Katsina on Monday evening in a match that promises to be explosive going by the words of Coach Tunde Disu, Technical Director of Lagos football team.
“Lagos are ready for Katsina and this is a match we must win to send a strong signal to our opponents that Lagos have a strong squad to win the football gold of the competition,” said Disu, a former Flying Eagles coach.
Meanwhile, the accreditation of athletes, officials and journalists, who are to participate in the festival are yet to start as at press time.
—Adebobola Alawode & Bimbo Ajayi