Months before the start of the World Cup in Russia, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was said to have shared his thought on how best Lagosians could enjoy the greatest sporting fiesta in the world with the Lagos State Sports Commission.
His dream was for fans in the state to have almost the same ambiance, a replica of the mood at World Cup centres.To this end, six World Cup viewing centres that include, the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere; Campos Mini Stadium, Lagos Island; Abesan playground, Alimosho; Naval Yard Ajegunle; Bishop Aggrey Youth Centre, Mushin, and Epe Recreation Centre, were carefully created across selected areas of the state.
To ensure a smooth operation of the centres, the governor provided a public liability insurance cover for the six centres during the period of the World Cup, in addition to providing security, traffic control and general sanitation.With a minimum sitting capacity of 24,500 in all the centres, it can be said that an average of 30,000 Lagos fans usually visit the centres enjoying all the matches courtesy of the magnanimity of the state governor.According to a banker, Mr. Yomi Oriade, “This is quite interesting, and to say the least, Governor Ambode really knows what his people wants and he usually reads our minds.
“Both young and old love football and at a period when the electricity supply is not good, the World Cup Viewing Centre is a platform we are sure of watching matches from Russia uninterruptedly. I prefer to leave the comfort of my home in Surulere to catch the fun at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.At the Agege Stadium centre, an undergraduate, Bunmi Olawale, said: “I want to commend Governor Ambode for bringing this year’s World Cup closer to us. I love watching football in a relaxed mood, which this centre provides. The jeers and the banters are naturally parts of the game, compared almost to the same scenario at the stadium.”
To Miss Folakemi Adeolu at the Bishop Aggrey Secondary School, Mushin centre, “When I heard that Governor Ambode was bringing a viewing centre closer to where I’m living in Mushin, I was so happy, and that’s why you see me here with Eagles’ jersey.”In the heart of the Lagos city at the Campos Mini Stadium, Ajele, Lagos Island, a delighted Mr. Okafor Chinedu said football is the only thing that unite Nigerians.
“You can see how we relate here as one big family, watching football. You won’t know which tribe anyone comes from; we are one Nigeria when the game is on. So for Governor Ambode to provide a platform like this, shows the oneness in spirit as Nigerians. And I think he deserves our applause,” Chinedu remarked.At the Naval Yard Ajegunle, one Victor Nwachukwu said: “The arrangement at this centre is quite interesting and I love it. Kudos to the governor, this shows and I believe it that Lagos remains number one sporting state in Nigeria.”
At the Abesan Estate, Alimosho centre, Mrs. Omolara Ekundayo expressed happiness over the centre, and that the security arrangement was topnotch. She added that as a result said of the centre created, that the sky will be the limit in Governor Ambode’s adventure in sports in Lagos.While moving round all the viewing centres to have a first hand information on people’s thoughts, the Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Adedayo Tandoh, said it is exciting to see people concentrating on the matches in the ongoing World Cup in Russia, unlike at homes where there may be distractions of any form.
He noted that the level of their concentration couple with the atmosphere at the centre did show what the Governor had in mind for setting up the World Cup Viewing Centres across the state.“The governor wanted the people to have a feel of football actions in the ongoing tournament and he believes that the viewing centres will also serve as fun and relaxation spots for the people,” Tandoh said.
According to the Director General of the Sports Commission, Babatunde Bank-Anthony, the governor is known for keeping any promise he make to his people.“He told us before the World Cup that he won’t want Lagosians to miss any match of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, and he gave us the directive of what should be done.Despite the nation’s exit from the World Cup, all the centres are still beehive of activities.