Nwankpa decries poor state of facilities at Lagos National Stadium
Obisie Nwankpa, a former Commonwealth Lightweight boxing champion, on Monday decried the dilapidated facilities at the National Stadium, Lagos and called for their rehabilitation.
Nwankpa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the poor state of the gymnasiums in the main bowl of the stadium was worrisome.
“This place needs to be thoroughly looked into with the urgency it requires for now,’’ he said.
The former boxer said that the facilities at the gymnasiums were outdated and should not be recommended for the present crop of athletes, especially boxers.
“The National Stadium, Lagos is our pride, built in 1972, I feel pained that this place has been totally neglected and overtaken by other activities to the detriment of sporting events.
“This place has produced many champions in various sports. I am a product of this stadium. I used to train here at the early stages of my boxing career.
“This stadium is like my second home when I was preparing for international contests because the gymnasium had standard facilities that helped me to succeed,’’ he said.
He lamented that the stadium was now used for religious and other social gatherings which, he noted, caused dilapidation.
Nwankpa said that in 2009, the National Sports Commission (NSC), led by its Director-General, Gbenga Elegbeleye, began an effort to bring the facility back to world class status.
“Past sports administrators have been here on facility visits and were aware of the problems but at the end, nothing comes out of it,’’ he said.
The coach, however, applauded the present board, headed by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah, for renovating sporting facilities like hostel for camping of boxers ahead of major events.
He described the rehabilitation as a step that would go a long way to encourage boxers and attract more budding talents to be committed to the sport.
“I believe that with what is happening at the Nigerian Boxing Federation (NBF) secretariat now, the lost glory of boxing will be restored and boxers will be happy to develop their career.
“Without mincing words, Minimah has distinguished himself, after all, we have had series of presidents in the boxing federation but none has considered the welfare of boxers.
“It’s not all about fame but the legacy that this man has obviously laid, with this hostel on ground now, camping of boxers or other athletes will not be a problem,’’ he said.
He advised athletes who would be privileged to have access to the rehabilitated hostel located at the NBF secretariat to use it judiciously.