From Cyriacus Nnaji, Lagos
Stakeholders at the just concluded Ajeromi/Ifelodun Sports Summit 2.0 have proffered solutions to the seemingly intractable youth restiveness and unemployment in the area.
The event which was held on the 11th of May, 2021 at Ajeromi/Ifelodun Council Secretariat, with the theme ‘Community Sports Ownership: Gateway to curbing youth restiveness, unemployment’, stakeholders agreed that grassroots and community sports development was capable of taking the youths out of the street while at the same time becoming a great source of employment in the community.
McAnthony Anaelechukwu, Special Adviser to the Ajeromi/Ifelodun Council Chairman on Sports and the Convener of the Summit, in his opening remarks spoke on the reason for the event. “Today, we dig deep into the seemingly insurmountable problems bedeviling Sports development in Ajeromi/Ifelodun. We are going to peruse into the past and bring to the fore what made us produce talents for various national teams; look at the present where we are today and see what we are not doing right; then take a cursory look into the future with the singular goal of taking our rightful place on the pinnacle of world sports.”
Anaelechukwu assuring prudent management of funds, stated that for the community sports to succeed there is need for commitment by all and sundry “This cannot be achieved without you sitting in this hall today. Together, we can produce those talents that can take the world by storm. Together we shall all speak with one voice and create job opportunities for our youths through meaningful involvement in sports,” Anaelechukwu said.
He went further to stress that even though there have been other summits in Agjegune, Sport Summit 2.0 was specifically designed to give back to the community “We have been having other summits, but this particular one came into being because we want to give back to the community, because you know, in foreign lands you see a team like Barcelona, Manchester United, they are being owned by the community, they are the stakeholders, they are the card carrying members of the clubs, they are the ones that pay to become members of those clubs, and if they stand up to say we don’t want this or that president, that president leaves. It was the fans that chased Asene Wenger out of Arsenal; Barcelona is owned by the community, by that Catalans.” He said.
Anaelechukwu maintained that the essence of the summit was to sensitise the community on how they can join hands to ensure a formidable sports development while also promoting crime free society and creating employment opportunities for the youth in the community.
He disclosed the role of the Royal Fathers in sports development of Ajegunle “And that is what we are trying to do. And we can’t achieve that without the Baales, who are the traditional custodians of laws and culture of the land; that is why you see the Baales, all represented, nine of them. And that is why you see the CDAs and the CDC, 39 CDA chairmen were all present today, the CDC Excos were here today too.
Speaking on the readiness of the traditional rulers to cue into the dream he said “The Chairman of the Local Government has called them, had a meeting with them telling them there is a competition we are bringing up, it is called Community Shield, this competition each Baale will own a team, Baale of Awodiora will bring his own team, all residents of Awodiora, every player must come from that community. Baale Ayetoro will bring his team, nine of them, there will be competition, where the winner will go home with N1million, second prize N500000, third prize, N250000. We are starting it after this Sallah.
“You will see that there will be room for competition, by the time this community wins two times, other ones too will like to work harder, so no community, no Baale will like to be left behind, no matter how old, thank God they are not that old,” McAnthony stated.
Hon. Fatai Adekunle Ayoola, the Executive Chairman of Ajeromi/Ifelodun Local Governmnent, used the opportunity to disclose some of his efforts in the local government that were devoted to sports development.
He said among the promises he made while contesting for the chairmanship position were infrastructure, health and sports development, adding that he would like Ajeromi/Ifelodun to be known for sports.
Ayoola said there are 71 public schools in primary and secondary in his council, the highest in the whole federation, saying that it is a credit to his administration that since he came on board, no teacher has been owed Salary.
He asserted that his government embarked on renovation of schools immediately he took over the administration of the council, and in doing that he combine it with knowledge of technology, so that the children are exposed to what their mates are experiencing in the private sector, “The schools are equipped with ICT centres, Libraries and sports complexes.” He also spoke glowingly about the Ajegunle Maracana Stadium
Hon Ayoola also inaugurated the Ajeromi Sports Council, he emphasized that there is a law guiding the sports council and that the law stipulates that there will be election in every three years, reminding members that they can be voted out for non-performance.
Panelists at the event include Desmond Ekwueme, Publisher Complete Sports, High Chief Mike Orobosa, Peter Nieketein, and Austin Popo, Ifeanyi Udeze, Former Super Eagles player. They all agreed that sports play a critical role in ensuring crime-free society while generating huge employment opportunities.
Desmond Ekwueme while encouraging community sports, decried absence of sports policy in the country. He said for the sports development agenda of the present administration in the local government to survive, there should be continuity in implementation of sports policy.
Peter Nieketein on his part stated that sports is a unifying factor and called for its encouragement.