Anybody who goes into the University of Nigeria Stadium located at the heart of Enugu metropolis will shudder over the state of sporting facilities put in place there when Nigeria hosted the world in under 17 Fifa football completions. UNEC stadium as it is fondly called has been an alternative pitch for the popular Nnamdi Azikwe Stadium. One still remembers vividly how Rangers International use the place to prosecute her premier and FC cup competitions anytime Nnamdi Azikwe was undergoing rehabilitation.
In like’s manner, teams like defunct UNTH FC, Relaxer FC and recently, Crime Busters FC play their National League matches over there. During the last FIFA Under 17 World Cup held in Nigeria, this UNEC stadium was among the three stadiums designated for training for our visitors. In Enugu then, others are Rangers Camp training pitch and Bigard Memorial Seminary Football Pitch. These pitches were renovated especially three Rangers Camp Pitch, UNEC and Nnamdi Azikiwe from natural to artificial turf.
In these three stadia namely UNEC, Rangers Camp and Nnamdi Azikwe did experience state of the art facilities like, score board, functional toilet, mini Plastic seats, track roads, as well as electrically were being restored into these pitches. Regrettably, taking a cursory look at UNEC and Ranger camp, anybody who visit any of this two places will be forced to ask some pertinent questions, like in UNEC, almost the root of the building in completing blown off, those plastic seats have all been carted away, toilet and electricity are stories for another day. One question that was directed to me by one of the players whose team just finished training as I was taking some shorts of the decaying facilities was, Oga, ‘what are they doing with huge amount of money they collect from numerous teams that cone here to train? As if I did not hear him, I retreated backward and from there went away. In other to verify this his assertion, I made another trip to there where I enquired about how the place in being run, three different coaches who pleaded that their names should not be mentioned gave me this showing breakdown. According to them, they said that for any team to train there, the team must pay three thousand naira (N3,000) then you multiply it with the number of football clubs that train there in a week. Secondly, they said five thousand naira (N5,000) is charged for any team that wants to play a match there. If one multiplies number of teams that train there and how many times in a month, it will give one a staggering amount.
Everyone knows that virtual all the centres where football was used to be played in Enugu metropolis had been replaced with beautiful and gigantic mansions no thanks to past administration. My questions are, those monies being collected from users of these pitches, who is accountable and whose job is it to be maintaining the facilities at the stadia? Also, the artificial turf is not left out in this mess as many parts of the pitches are no longer football friendly now. I will be hard or it will be a harsh judgment if one tags this development corruption, but then? I Challenge the authorities concerned to as a matter of urgency, do something about these deportable states of facilities before it will be too late. From time in events, maintenance culture has always been the bane of our society. Officials of sports ministry should please pay a visit to these facilities before they get out of hand