The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has lauded the efforts of the Nathaniel Idowu Foundation chaired by Yemi Idowu for the massive transformation of the popular Maracana Stadium in Ajegunle to a world-class facility as over 4000 youngsters across the South West states dazzled at the one-day football fiesta held at the stadium.
Also, the chairman of Ajeromi-Ifelodun Fatai Adekunle Ayoola was also commended for his efforts in facilitating the public-private sector initiative in the council.
NFF Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi described the gesture by the foundation as commendable while hoping 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,” he said.
“This project epitomizes the concept of ‘The Business of Football’ and how crucial infrastructure is in football development. This is truly 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 added.
Maracana Stadium located at Tolu Complex in Ajegunle, Lagos received a massive facelift by the foundation with 10 five-a-sides, eight seven-a-side pitches as well as a standard football which was put to test by U-13 players from the South West teams at the weekend.
For Idowu, the gesture by the foundation 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 building by working with the Lagos State Football Association, the local government 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.
“The Lagos FA gave us the technical support throughout and of course the Ajeromi Ifelodun local government 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,” he added.
Upon completion, the facilities would boast of 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.