Some sportswear vendors and sports persons have urged the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Sunday Dare, to bring life back to the National Stadium, Lagos, to improve their businesses and careers.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos that the stadium had been abandoned without serious events that would bring people to patronize them.
Bringing competitions to the stadium will also help to ensure that it is refurbished, they said.
The sportswear vendors expressed sadness over the poor sales of their wares at the stadium in the last four years, saying that only regular sports activities would improve their business.
Mrs Chinyere Solomon, a vendor selling different sports wears, called on the new minister to make the stadium good enough for sports training and competitions by providing modern infrastructure.
“The National Stadium in Lagos is idle without activities. No electricity, no restaurant apart from OJ Restaurant for the `big boys’, that cannot cater for low-income sportsmen and women.
“We have low sales or some times no sales at all. I have been selling at this stadium for more than 16 years, the last four years have been the worse for me. The stadium needs renovation and national sports events.
“As a vendor selling sports wears, I am contributing to the growth of the economy because I employed salesmen and women who work for me. Without selling, I can’t pay their salaries,” Solomon noted.
For Mrs. Chitess, another vendor, the minister should create more national games that would attract people from all parts of Nigeria such as sports festivals.
“We usually look forward to different competitions coming to the stadium and that brings more sales to us. In the last four years, we will hear they were planning one event, later we hear that it has been canceled.
“The new minister should bring life back to Lagos stadium,” she said.
For the physically challenged sportsmen and women, the minister should pay attention to their plight in Lagos by giving them the opportunity to represent the nation at various Games in the world, urging him to improve the facilities at the stadium.
One of the female para weightlifter in 61 class, Maria Komo, told NAN that many times, they trained in hash conditions for competitions, but the government only picked those who took the first position in previous competitions, leaving out second and third positions.
“The minister should look into the categories of people selected to represent Nigeria. Those of us who took the second or third position and have trained very well should be selected too.
“It is the joy of every sports person to represent his nation,” she said.
A 35-year-old boxer, simply identified as Capu, said he currently trained some 15 children in boxing at the stadium.
He solicited for better facilities to help him prepare kid boxers for better championships in the future.
Capu said his kid boxers, who were between ages 8 and 15, could be become great boxers for big events if properly trained with modern facilities, as some of them had won medals in Lagos State competitions.
“I trained to be a champion. These children can be made champions also.
“The National Stadium Lagos has no facilities for children. The new minister should look into this,” he said.
Chief Donatus Agu- Ejidike, referred to as “Nigeria’s Pillar of Sports”, however, urged the minister to focus on all sports in the country.
He said that this would engage more people, particularly the young ones in the legitimate business of sports.
Ejidike described the appointment of Sunday Dare, as refreshing and inspiring, and urged him to bring his knowledge as a revered journalist and administrator to bear on Nigeria sports.
“I congratulate the new sports minister. And I say, his appointment is refreshing and inspiring in view of his vast experience in journalism and ICT.
“I want him to consult widely, listen to advice but act wisely in decision making.
“He should also ensure that all sports federations are given adequate attention,” Ejidike said.
He advised corporate organisations and the media to support the sports minister in his quest to lead Nigerian sports to greater heights.