NFF eulogises Idowu Foundation as South West kids open new Maracana Stadium
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has called on individuals and private sector operators to emulate the Nathaniel Idowu Foundation, which has remodelled the famous Maracana Stadium, Ajegunle, Lagos.
On Saturday, over 4,000 U-13 footballers from across the South West region thronged the new-look Maracana to feature in a one-day football championship used to open the refurbished arena to the public.
Speaking on the facility, which hosts a number of mini football pitches, as well as the main bowl, NFF First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, commended the foundation, led by Yemi Idowu, for the gesture, while praying that the completion of the facilities would help to unearth more talents for Lagos.
“Indeed, it is a fantastic initiative. The sheer number of children playing football on various pitches, simultaneously, was a delight to witness.
“This project epitomises the concept of ‘The Business of Football’ and how crucial infrastructure is in football development. This is evidence of the importance of the private sector in grassroots football development. There are a few more of this coming up in Lagos soon,” he said.
He, also, commended the chairman of Ajeromi-Ifelodun Council, Fatai Adekunle Ayoola, for his efforts in facilitating the public-private sector initiative in the council.
Maracana Stadium, located at Tolu Complex in Ajegunle, Lagos, received a massive facelift by the foundation with 10 five-a-side and eight seven-a-side pitches, as well as a standard football pitch, which was put to test by U-13 players from the South West teams.
Explaining his Foundation’s decision to rebuild the stadium, Idowu said the gesture is in line with its ideals of supporting education, health, and sports. “We are supporting education, health, and sports through selected institutions and not individuals. We are building capacity by working with the Lagos State Football Association, the local councils and the state government because the structure is there. So, when we put in money, this is the kind of outcome expected.”
“We did not do this alone. The Lagos State governor took personal interest and removed all bottlenecks. It was a campaign promise for him. He quietly monitored the progress and was always asking what we needed, so we are very grateful to him. Everything was fast-tracked and that’s why we are here,” Idowu said.
He added: “The Lagos FA gave us the technical support throughout and of course, the Ajeromi Ifelodun local council through the chairman as well.
“The money, of course, we invested and we got the maximum output out of that money because if it had gone another way, we would have spent three times or four times more. I think in terms of value for money and capacity, we have really done well here.”
On completion, the facilities will have 10 five-a-side pitches, eight seven-a-side pitches, one international size pitch, 50-metre Olympic size pool, one diving pool, a table tennis hall, basketball courts, tennis courts, gym, boxing and mixed martial gym, medical centre, as well as an office complex.