The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Technical Committee has given a huge pass mark to facilities at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, stating that the quality of work and aesthetics at the site make it a good venue for the hosting of international matches.
These were the verdict of Mallam Ibrahim Gusau, Chairman of Chairmen of state Football Associations, FA, shortly after leafing a technical committee of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF on tour of facilities at the remodelled Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, Monday.
Speaking on behalf of his three-man ad-hoc committee members, Gusau said, “As you can see, work is still in progress. I have the confidence to say that from what I have seen on the ground today, by the grace of God, we will be able to host any kind of match that we will want to host here for our national team.
As you are also aware, we were supposed to host a world cup qualifier match here but due to the adjustment of the fixtures of the international matches, it was no longer possible. But we are going to play a Confederation of African Football (CAF) African qualifier here. That is what we are proposing. I am sure we are going to meet that target.”
Given kudos to the state government, Gusau who is also an executive committee member of the NFF said, “I just want to say here that from my little interactions with the Deputy Governor, I am really impressed and happy with what I have seen and I hope we would be here with you again at the end of March for the African qualifier.”
On areas of needs to focus on so as to meet CAF requirement, he called on Edo State Government to meet up with the issue of completion of the tartan track, complete all ongoing constructions and clear all the necessary debris within the premises of the stadium.
“We want everything to be clean. The dressing room as we can see has been put in place but needs to be cleaned up of debris. The Video Assisted Referee (VAR) room is in place which will allow us to see things happening within the stadium for up to 5km which is very important, especially security-wise. There is not much to be done about any issue here. Let them finish the little outstanding jobs in the stadium as it has to be free of these little things for any match to be hosted here.”
On his remarks after your, Edo State Deputy Governor Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu said, “You have heard from the NFF Technical Representative and the Chairman of Chairmen. They have gone around and told us to mop up the remaining areas of the tartan track.
We are almost done with the first phase of the tartan track. In Football matches, little objects can be used as weapons. They have told us to finish with those little things that are left so that at the end of the day everywhere will be clean and free of any objects.
For us, we are excited and happy that we are already getting the green light from them. The standard that we want to achieve is being confirmed by them because they are the regulators. They run the business.”
Noting that the work at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium has already set it apart in beauty and aesthetics, he posited, “Looking at this stadium, anytime I see it, I feel fulfilled.
The Governor told me the other day that anybody that comes here would know that we want to bring sports back to Edo State and want to make it the home of sports that it used to be.
We are starting it with the football match for the Edo 2020 National Sports Festival. At the end of the day, the joy is that Sports is back home. I am happy with what we have done so far.”
Comrade Shaibu added that the facility would be maintained through corporate branding and private sector collaboration noting, “We have a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) office. Obviously, after the commissioning of the stadium that department would swing into action.
Government alone will not run this facility. Maintenance is going to be done in partnership with the private sector. We are returning football and other sports back to the private sector. They are to drive it.
They need to sell their products through branding, especially in an environment of peace and security. Just like it is done elsewhere, it is the private sector that drives sports. You can imagine the number of employment you would be creating. Sports is also the greatest means to sell and make your products known.
For us, we will not only partner with the private sector to drive and maintain this facility, but we will also partner with them to sell their products on a monthly or quarterly basis through the principal’s cup, inter-house sports and tournaments like the Edo State Sports Festival games. All games are back. It is the private sector that will drive them.
Our business as a government is to provide the enabling environment and provide the facility. That is what we have done. It is now the turn of the private sector to take advantage of what we have here through corporate branding.”
He was optimistic of the readiness of facilities for use, saying that “some of the facilities would be ready before February 10, 2020.
The swimming pool would be ready, the first phase of the lawn tennis court would be ready, the indoor sports hall part of it would be ready. We are not going to use here for football.
We are also going to use the facilities at the University of Benin Sports complex, and the National Indoor Sports Complex at Etete which has been given back to us. If you go round all these arenas you would find out that work is nearing 90% completion.
The only part of the stadium that we are not using for the Edo State Sports Festival is the football field. Every other thing and even the Tartan track would be put to test.”