Football stakeholders have described Lagos state as the hub of grassroots football development in Nigeria. Recent research and investigations by Sports Chronicle Magazine showed that Lagos state has become a beehive of grassroots football activities.
According to the findings of SCM, grassroots football teams are enjoying a conducive environment, made possible by Lagos State Football Association. There are a plethora of grassroots football competitions taking place simultaneously in different parts of the state.
According to Badagry based grassroots football promoter, Sola Smart, Lagos State is undoubtedly, the leader in grassroots football development.
“Grassroots football is thriving and developing in Lagos state because the State FA are equally committed to the development of football at the grassroots level. I am saying this because, unlike some states in the country who pays lip service to grassroots football development, Lagos FA have overtime proved to be willing partners in the this aspect,” the youthful football administrator remarked.
Coach Dominic Etim, who is the proprietor of Baraka football academy, noted that grassroots teams in Lagos are always busy competing in one tournament or the other. He was full of praises for the several grassroots football organisers and sponsors for their roles in developing Nigerian football, as well as, helping to take the youths off the streets.
SCM also discovered that most local government areas in the state are replete with mini or Olympic sized pitches for the use of the grassroots football teams, therefore, giving birth to several local football leagues and championships. Prominent amongst these government owned facilities is the Odion Ighalo O2 Arena in the famous Ajegunle area of Lagos state, that recently played host to some matches of the Lagos State FA cup.
In a recent interview with Sports Chronicle Magazine, Lagos State FA Chairman, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, who also doubles as the 1st Vice-President of Nigeria Football Federation, was effusive in praises for the grassroots football stakeholders in the state. He commended their steadfastness and commitment to the development and growth of football at the grassroots levels in the state.
“Lagos State Football Association is, indeed, proud of the football stakeholders in the state, particularly, at the grassroots levels. Despite the strangulating economic situation in the country, they have continued to ensure that football in Lagos state thrives.
“I am equally happy and proud to tell you that we have a properly structured football ecosystem and with an enviable success template,” the experienced and high resourceful football administrator stated.
Akinwunmi further remarked that the emergence of some youth players, like former Golden Eaglets captain Samson Tijani and highly rated Akinkunmi Amoo, who were discovered at some Lagos FA youth football programmes on the national scene, are testimonials of the workable and result-oriented programmes of the state FA.
It was also discovered that Lagos State is one of the leading states in female football, with hundreds of young female footballers scouted at different grassroots football tournaments plying their trades with several clubsides in and outside the country, as well as, the various female national teams.
Notwithstanding the enviable succeses achieved in Lagos football, Akinwunmi noted the needs for more financial support from corporate bodies and well placed individuals.
“We appreciate the support from organisations and individuals towards the development of football in this state, however, we need more support. Football is big business and I believe it can get better and bigger, with more corporate and individual support,” Akinwunmi stated.