-How Ikorodu lost opportunity to redevelop facility
Following the report by THE IMPACT on its online platforms on the state of the popular Police Playing Ground, along Igbogbo road, Ikorodu, sports administrators have called on the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, to see to the redevelopment of the playing ground.
They also asked the governor to fulfil his pledge of building a stadium for the division at Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu campus and Igbogbo.
THE IMPACT report, which was titled, ‘Police Barracks Playing Ground In Ikorodu: A Football Pitch Or ‘Death’ Trap?’ caught the attention of the sports administrators, some of who reacted to the state of the field that has been serving the division for over 3 decades.
We gathered that the efforts of the Grassroots Sports Development Forum (GSDF) led by the retired senior police officer and sports administrator, Alhaji Kolawole Saheed Akinsanya, to make the government upgraded the playing ground almost yielded results.
It was also gathered that following a letter written by GSDF to the then Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, through the Ministry of Sports when Otunba Fatai Olukoga was then the Permanent Secretary, an approval was given for the construction of Youth Centre and Recreational Facilities at Police Barracks Playing Ground.
The Lagos State Government then had written a letter with Ref. No YSSD/1275/47 and dated 15th August 2006 to request for the permission of the Police Lagos Command for the construction of sporting facilities on the Playing Ground.
Responding via a letter titled ‘Re: Construction of Youth Centre and Provision of Recreational Facilities at Igbogbo (Ikorodu) Police Playground” with reference No. SB: 3383 /LS /‘A’ DEPT/VOL.T2/792 and dated 23rd August 2006, the former Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Mr Emmanuel Adebayo, conveyed the Lagos Command’s approval and gratitude to the governor for the proposed construction.
“I hereby acknowledged with thanks the receipts of your letter Ref. No YSSD/1275/47 dated 15th August 2006 on the subject matter”.
“The approval given by His Excellency, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Governor of Lagos State, for the construction of Youth Centre and Recreational Facilities at Igbogbo Police Playground Ikorodu by your Ministry is wholeheartedly accepted and lauded by this Command”, the letter stated.
It was ,however, gathered that some people allegedly protested that the police authority would prevent the public access to the field if the state government upgraded it.
Speaking with THE IMPACT on phone, a sports administrator stated, “We are where we are in Ikorodu (division) because of our politics. Today, while other parts of the state are with functional sports stadium, youths recreational centres and sporting arenas, Ikorodu has none because we are not ready for it yet”.
“We sought and got the government’s intervention to construct a sports arena with state-of-the-art facilities only for some of our people to play their cards. Their position was that the police authority will not give them access to the facilities and they ensure that the project did not see the light of the day. Ironically, the same field has been serving them since that time till date without any molestation from the police”.
When contacted, the GSDF Chairman, Alhaji Kola Akinsanya, confirmed the development. His words, “It happened at the time Grassroots Sports Development Forum was incharge of sporting activities in the state and we convinced Otunba Fatai Olukoga, who was the Permanent Secretary then in the Ministry of Sports, over the construction of sports facilities at the playground and approval was given but unfortunately we lost the opportunity because some people erroneously felt that they would not be allowed to access the facilities when upgraded ”.
In the proposal by the GSDF which was approved by the State Government were the main field with wire fence, covered pavilion, indoor recreational centre, volleyball court, 5-Aside field and car park.
According to the documents in our possession, the plan for the facilities was drawn by Alhaji Kola Akinsanya.
He appealed to the administration of Mr Akinwunmi Ambode to reconsider the approval in the interest of the youths in Ikorodu division.
“We understand that the present administration in the state is planning to build a stadium at the Lagos State Polytechnic for the division and also upgrade the Igbogbo stadium, but there is need to put this field in proper shape”.
“The government should reconsider upgrading this playground first since this place has been our traditional field since the unfortunate loss of the acres of land allocated for Ikorodu stadium at Sawmill, along Sagamu- Odongunyan road,Ikorodu. This, however, does not in anyway prevent the construction of other stadia in Ikorodu and other places in the division, considering the size and the population of the division”, Alhaji Akinsanya appealed.
Alhaji Luqman Shonibare, the Chairman, Ikorodu Divisional Football Association (IDFA), who also condemned the state of the Police playground which he described as ‘embarrassing and not good for sporting development’, also appealed to Governor Ambode to consider redeveloping the playground for the division.
He added that if care is not taken, there would not be any where to engage youths in sporting activities in the division.
“We tried all we could to ensure that this field is rehabilitated because of its importance but when we were not getting any response and flood is seriously threatening it, we had to raise fund to fill the portions where flood had washed away with sand.”
“The Governor should assist by helping us to redevelop this field for the use of the youths in Ikorodu division for sporting activities”, he appealed.
Alhaji Isa, a veteran player and coach popularly called ‘Coach Railway’, also called on the state government and public-spirited individuals to help in redeveloping the playground.
The Police playing ground surface has largely been washed off by erosion and if left un-attended to in the next few months, it would completely collapse. The pitch is currently without a single grass.
In a related development, the Igbogbo Township stadium is also begging for urgent attention while the sports centre built by the Lagos State Government at Ipakan in Ijede Local Council Development Area is still in a state of disrepair since the collapse of its roof upon completion several years ago and currently waiting for government intervention.
-How Ikorodu lost opportunity to redevelop facility