Outgoing governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode has come out with an explanation of the rationale behind the devotion he gave to sports events during his tenure, as he says it is a way of further cementing bonds because diverse people in the Centre of Excellence.
Speaking about ‘The Match of Legends,’ which held Saturday at Agege Stadium, Lagos as part of send-forth events marking his exit as governor, Ambode said sports, especially football, is a rallying force in Nigeria.
The Match on Saturday was by a capacity crowd that thronged the Agege Stadium, Kanu Nwankwo opened the scoring in the first half before Titi Kamara drew the African legends level within a space of two minutes.
A foul in the penalty box by Taribo West on El Hadji Diouf was converted by Titi Kamara which put the African stars 3-1 at half time.
In the second half, Garba Lawal fired in a free kick from the edge of the 18-yard to half the deficit for the Nigerian Legends. But a cheeky penalty from El Hadji Diouf put the African legends 4-2 up.
With the game heading for its final minutes, Obafemi Martins charged through the defence of the African Legends and scored a rebound with a header, while a stoppage-time goal by ace comedian, ‘AY’ ensured both teams shared the spoils, with the game finishing in a thrilling 4-4 draw.
Before the game, Ambode was given a guard of honour by both teams as he walked through with fireworks display before he was given the honour of performing the official kick-off for the match.
Earlier, there was a novelty match between an U-15 side from Lagos and their counterpart from Kebbi State, with the visitors running away with a 5-0 victory.
Ambode was also inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Nigeria Supporters Club (NSC) for his unwavering support towards sports development and especially football in Nigeria.
While stressing that football is a strong avenue for growth and development, Ambode went on to urge political leaders in other African countries to look inward and explore the possibility of using sports to grow their economies.
He noted that the sense of togetherness that is found through sports should be used by any far-thinking government in scaling up the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of their countries.
Ambode added: “I had this dream when I came in as governor that I could use sports, tourism, entertainment and arts with some sense of hospitality to promote excellence.
“So, I had something called Project T.H.E.S.E and my dream was to catalyse everything around sports and use it to build tourism and also grow the GDP of Lagos.
“We have always used sports to build bridges and there is this sense of brotherhood anytime that you switch on your television and there is an African playing on any line-up; be it, Liverpool, be it Tottenham.
“That was the dream and why we promoted as many sporting activities as possible; so that we could create a platform for tourism which made many people to travel here.”