One of the major ways of engaging the youths in every society is to develop their minds and skills in all platforms, including sports. It is also acknowledged as a way of building generations of global athletes. But what becomes of young active people whose hopes and potential begin to deteriorate and fade out by the day? Such is the case of Apongbon youths and residents. New Telegraph visited Apongbon stadium on Lagos Island and found the state of the arena deplorable and abandoned.
There are torn shed inside the stadium and damaged chairs while parts of the fence built around the stadium have also collapsed, and everywhere is littered with dirt and excreta.
In fact, the Apongbon community Stadium has majorly turned to a dumping ground. Furthermore, the astro turf meant for the pitch has been removed and abandoned at a side of the arena.
The community looked choked and has perhaps lost hope in the development of the skills of its young minds.
New Telegraph also observed that there is lack of security the stadium as cart pushers freely dumped their refuse in the premises as well. The entrance is swampy with stagnant water; the gate is rusted and the entire premises of the stadium look unkempt. In addition, there are stores within the arena, such that look like a mini warehouse for business owners. Some residents, such as corps members and other youths have turned the place to a relaxation centre.
Some of the trainees and youths expressed their feelings and called on the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode- led administration to intervene to rehabilitate and repair the entire stadium. One of the footballer trainees, Mr. Futau Alabi, recalled that the Apongbon stadium, which was built during the former administration of Mr. Babatunde Fashola(SAN) used to be a venue for potential youths who aspired to become a professional athletes such as boxers, footballers and the likes.
But the story is no longer the same. According to him, the opportunities have been denied them.
“Whenever our children want to do their interhouse sports, we have to take them to other schools.
They are just using this area for everything. We cannot do anything there.” He said. Alabi also accused the Community Development Area, CDA, of the mis- handling the stadium, saying that it has been turned to a dumping ground whereby you find various wastes in the premises. “Can you imagine that they (gas sellers) have been putting their gas cylinders under the construction of this area? Look at the symbol over there, the pipeline was there.
They just finished their work in January or February.
They park their vehicles inside the stadium.
“The CDA is maltreating us. It is the CDA that is destroying this place and littering everywhere with gas cylinders. They have destroyed this place and you can hardly find anything useful here. Nobody is in charge anymore as even the neighbourhood’s cares less.
This stadium has also been turned to a car park,” he alleged. More so, the football trainee explained that the public toilet in the stadium has been locked for years now, and even in an awful state. Alabi explained that it has been abandoned for years and sometimes, some people come around, open the toilet and go away with some of the toilet wares, stressing that whenever the concerned residents confronted such people, their response is always rude and action brutal.
However, Alabi emphasised that giants had been raised from the Apongbon stadium, who have become international athletes, thereby calling on the present administration to commence an immediate reconstruction of the stadium.
“We want the government to repair this stadium in order to restore hope in the lives of the youths around.
I know few of some young men that used to train in this stadium who are now doing very well abroad. This place has produced stars. Many giants have been raised. If you come here on Saturday mornings, you will meet many of the youths in this area and beyond training,” he added.
Speaking with another trainee who uses the stadium as his regular training ground, Popoola (surname withheld) told a New Telegraph correspondent that he uses the venue at least four times in a week alongside many other trainees from different teams. Collaborating Alabi, Popoola said that the stadium is not the way it used to be, noting that the environment is no longer conducive for the trainees. Popoola said that the infrastructure in the stadium had been damaged and no one has been able to fix it.
He said: “Different people and companies come around the stadium for inspection. According to some residents of this community, I think the stadium might have been sold out to some private organisations.”
Both the youths and residents of Apongbon are calling on the Lagos State government to repair and fix the stadium as this serves as a light and hope for the youths in this community. They are also urging the government to come to their aid, so that their talents and potentials do not die. They also called for rehabilitation of the stadium, which they believe will reawaken the skills in the youths in the community. Meanwhile, all efforts to speak with the council administrator proved abortive as at time of reporting.