Home Sports Football Lagos is a G-O-A-L with AFCON 2023 frenzy

Lagos is a G-O-A-L with AFCON 2023 frenzy

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Football is beyond what we see as 11 players on opposing sides running after a round leather, aiming to win by outscoring each other in 90 minutes which is the standard regulation time for the ‘beautiful’ game.

I had the pleasure of visiting some of the viewing centres created by the Lagos State Government for the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cote D’Ivoire where the Super Eagles is one of the participating teams; and it dawned on me how the government of Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu is using football, a popular sport, to foster communal bonding, empower small scale businesses, and enrich lives among others.

The 20 Lagos Issa Goal viewing centres, located in different Local Government Areas of the state, are open on match and non-match days because they have become a location for socialisation. And to the   petty traders, the centres serve as a marketplace to make brisk business at a time when everyone needs multiple sources of income to survive the burden of the present economy.

I am made to understand that the viewing centres is a tradition of the government of the sports-loving governor, who has demonstrated his interest in the  development of sports in the state for social inclusion, healthy lifestyle, discovery and development of talents, promotion of tourism and other business potential associated with sports.

As an advocate of sport as a business, I have seen how Governor Sanwo-Olu has stirred the interest of Lagosians and by extension Nigerians in the Super Eagles through some of his gestures to the team. These included bidding to host their games at some point, and hosting the players and the back room officials at the State House, the sent forth reception as they made to depart to Cote d’Ivoire for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, all also say a lot about the governor’s commitments to supporting one of Nigeria’s unifying factors, and creating enthusiasm about the team which builds followership that corporate bodies leverage on through sponsorship.

Through the creation of 20 viewing centres in the state, the governor has created economic empowerment through the patronage of various vendors, who supplied items like LED screens,  canopies, chairs, sound system , DJ and other sundry items which guarantee viewing pleasure. The ambience of conviviality devoid of any security threat allows the fans–young and old – to enjoy the football tournament with other side attractions like raffle draw, which saw lucky winners go home with cash prizes and other lovely items.

One could see the unspoken display of joy in the eyes of winners and that of kids who trooped to the centres to watch their favourite football stars, thereby keeping the burning vision and desire to become like their role model in the nearest future. This is one of the unquantifiable benefits of this project which will inspire the youths to dream.

Kudos must also be given to the state Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture for using a sail and cheer boat cruise to deepen the promotion of tourism, using sports to showcase the beauty of Lagos as football enthusiasts watched one of Nigeria’s AFCON games, immersing themselves in the pleasure of aquatic splendour. That is the Lagos that is fast becoming a premium destination point.

All these are made possible by a leadership that is operating a philosophy of “no one should be left behind“.

If you are yet to visit any of the viewing centres to watch any of the Super Eagles games or the tournament, it is not too late to feed your passion at the Lagos Issa Goal viewing centre where the excitement is turbo charged.

Olaniran, a sports enthusiast, writes from Lagos

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