In order to accelerate sports development in the state, Lagos State Sports Commission was carved out of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Social Development with a mission to make Lagos Africa’s sport hub within three years. This singular act has really helped to divorce sporting matters from all administrative bottle necks and bureaucracy.
The Sports Commission’s first priority was to step age cheat out of the state’s sporting circle. To this end, a policy to fast track progression of athletes of varied age grades in the state has been put in place. A database of all Lagos State athletes in the state was created as a major step forward in this regard.
The state government is equally working hard to ensure upgrade of existing sporting infrastructure as well as construction of new ones. For instance, three astro turf facilities are being constructed in Festac, Ikeja and Surulere. There are plans to build a world class aquatic centre in Epe and Lagos to include world class model swimming pools as well as adjoining hospitality facilities by 2018. The project, when completed, will attract thousands of tourists annually, as well as create several short and long term job and potentially to generate significant revenue for the state annually. There is also an ongoing transformation of Onikan stadium as well as a major upgrade of the Teslim Balogun stadium. This is in addition to the construction of the Lagos Game Village. Presently, the state’s sporting infrastructure development project has created about 3,000 short and long term jobs across the state.
Grassroots sports development is also being given a huge boost by the state government. In 2016 for instance, the state government sponsored 35 grassroots sports competitions such as Lagos State boxing individual open championship, Lagos international Squash Classic, Lagos invitational Artistic Gymnastics championship, maiden edition of under- 17 Judo Slam, 3- day Closed Wrestling Championship, Lagos Triathlon Fiesta, Lagos Under-18 Fives Championship, 1st Lagos Secondary Schools’ Hockey League, Lagos Junior Golf Training/ Championship, Lagos T20 Cricket Tourney, 1st Lagos State Secondary Schools Traditional Sports Competitions and Governor Ambode 1st south west under- 18 Badminton Competition among others. Through these competitions, some new talents have been discovered.
In order to further reinforce its intention to develop sports in the state, the Ambode administration equally conceived and pioneered the now famous Lagos City Marathon. A total of 100, 000 athletes from 27 countries participated in the second edition held in February.
With a view to encouraging more younger folks to develop interest in sports, all of the state’s public school are now mandated by the state government to organize annual inter house sports competition. Aside its potential to discover new talents, it is equally meant to promote the culture of friendliness, keep fit and unity among students across the school.
This has further underscored the importance of sports to education. It goes without saying that Education and sports should be normally inseparable.
As the Ambode administration continues to provide the necessary impetus for sporting activities in the state, it is obvious that sports development is being given an entirely new momentum in the state. Hopefully, the newly gained thrust will not only endure but also yield the expected dividends.
Jeddy Omisore, Lagos