The Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare, has promised to restore the lost glory of Obafemi Awolowo Stadium, formerly known as Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, during a visit on Sunday.
The minister, who was on a working visit to the stadium, said he was not happy with the current state of facilities, saying the ministry will soon refurbish the dilapidated infrastructure at the stadium.
Dare said he had embarked on a similar visit to the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna, Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja and the National Stadium in Lagos, adding that it was necessary to visit the first among equal, Obafemi Awolowo Stadium.
He said: “My impression here today is, I’m really impressed that we have such a structure, built over 64 years ago, it is still standing but it has suffered years of neglect and lack maintenance.
“I’ve said right from the beginning that our facilities would enjoy my attention in terms of upgrade, maintenance and management. We have seen here that effort has been made in the past few years, also we have seen that the effort of maintenance, upgrade and management has not been sufficient.
“I’ve seen the indoor sport main bowl, swimming pool, training pitches, I have seen them, we need to bring Obafemi Awolowo Stadium back to work, we need to inject some funds into this place, we are going to work on our new model, the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
“We have a campaign going on, adopt a football pitch, adopt a sports centre, adopt an athlete. Under that programme, as we complete the details of it, we are going to invite the private sectors to adopt one of this programme on an incremental basis, at the end of the year, we would check the ministry’s effort, working with private sectors, we would bring this stadium back to active use.
“You will recall that we had CAF matches, FIFA matches here, not just football but other sporting events took place here in Ibadan, we can bring back the glory, as you know globally, sports is also a great business, we are going to look at the new business model building around sports, we want to bring upstream Kaduna, Abuja, Lagos and Ibadan. We want to bring these facilities, we can have such championships coming back to Ibadan.
“CAF, FIFA and the rest have standards, so if they want to bring any games into Ibadan, they will check the facilities on ground as they have their checklist. I will not deny that there is paucity of funds but then, we can make use of our initiatives to bring funding back into sports from the public and private sectors and that is what we are doing.”