Surulere: Gbaja’s Efforts Birthing New Talents In Football

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For those that know a little about the boisterous and bubbling enclave in Lagos called Surulere, it becomes easy to understand why it is tagged ‘the Sports City of Nigeria’. Adorned with two world class stadia standing adjacent to each other, as well as a host of other mini-stadia dotting the various communities that make up Surulere, one will quickly understand the strong passion for sports that the city radiates. Sporting activities is a norm among the people of Surulere, little wonder that the city has produced a host of sport talents and stars in various sports for some decades now
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To keep up with the spirit of show asking sports talent and reigniting a seemingly lost zeal for internalized sports competition in the famed Sports City, there was no better time than the period when one ofthe illustrious Surulere sons, Rt Honourable Gbajabiamila, the seating Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, is celebrating his birthday. His birthday presented a perfect occasion to birth the First Edition of the Surulere Sport City Fiesta Competition, an event that is expected to usher iná new Era of hunts for local sports talents. Knowing that Rt Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila is also a sports loving gentleman, who has continually shown his passion for sports development through the re-engineering and face uplifts of the sports centers across Surulere, the zeal for a sport event such as the Surulere sports fiesta will always arise. With the upgrading of five popular football fields to astroturf mini-stadia with pavilion-terraced stands, the Youths of Surulere will be more encouraged to participate in sporting activities rather than engage in social vices.

On the backdrop of this, the SA on Youth Matters to the Speaker, Ibrahim Alli-Balogun organized the Inaugural edition of the Sport City Fiesta as a means of rediscovering sports talents at a young age. Using the occasion of the Speaker’s birthday as a launchpad, the sport Fiesta was slated for the 24th and 25th of June, 2021. Powered by the office of the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, the Sports City Fiesta ignited the mood for sports and recreation in Surulere.
Day one of the Sport Fiesta witnessed the kick-off of football matches in two of the astroturfed mini-stadia (Love Garden Pavillion and Paddington Pavillion). The football competition was made up of football teams across the wards in Surulere. The two mini-stadia hosted four matches between eight teams each. The football teams competiting for the trophy were named according to Nigerian clubs as a means of promoting the Nigerian Football culture.

Day Two of the sports fiesta witnessed the kick-off of four other sports; table tennis, chess, draughts and Scrabble.
The Paddington Pavillion played host to Table Tennis and Draughts, with many dignitaries in attendance, amongst them are the Sitting Secretary of Surulere Local Government who is also the vice chairmanship candidate of APC in the coming election, Prince Muiz Dosunmu, three sitting councilors of Surulere Local Government, Hon Adebayo Adebisi, Hon Kazeem Bello, and Honourable Bunmi Phillips as well as SuperVisory councilors Honourable Yinka Jonathan and Hon Olayiwola Abdulhakeem. There was also a cultural display by Nigerian Children Cultural Heritage, a children’s cultural group owned by Kemi Fanimokun, a Surulere community developer.
The eventual winner of the table tennis competition, Tosin Akinola is known in the Lagos state table tennis circle as a young prospect who is believed will put the country in global stage of table tennis competition in years to come. Sharks FC of Ward E defeated Warri Wolves of F1 in a scintillating final match that ended 3-1. The draughts competition ended with Akinsanya Sam from ward G3 of Surulere Local Government taking home the top prize.

At the Love garden Pavillion, two board games; Chess and Scrabble competition were added to the football event. The competition here witnessed dignitaries such as Federal Chief Commissioner, Bimbo Ayo Yusuf, Mr Kelin and counsitring councilors such as Hon Ajala. The eventual winner of the chess competition, Bunmi Olape is a one-time Nigeria and African chess champion. The football competition at the Paddington Pavillion was won by Mamelodi Sundown from Love Garden community.

The Scrabble competition winner, Olaripe Hakeem from ward G, is also a known star in the Nigerian Scrabble players’ circle.
In all, the Sport City Fiesta lived to its nomenclature, as the two days of scintillating sports performances and merriment brightened the mood of Surulere constituents, with residents coming out en masse to cheer their various teams to action. The signals sent by the two events will reinvigorate the sport passion which have for sometime been idle as a result of a decrease of local sport events in Surulere. The fiesta has whet the sports appetite of the Surulere people and it might just be the right initiative to draw back the good old times when sporting events take the Youthsaway from social vices and moral decadence.

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