By Usman Aliyu
Ilorin, Aug. 27, 2020 Gov. AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq on Thursday lifted the restriction on non-contact sporting activities in the state as part of the gradual easing of the coronavirus lockdown.
AbdulRasaq announced this in Ilorin while hosting some officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), led by its President, Mr Amaju Pinnick, before the official inauguration of the first Football House in Nigeria.
The governor reiterated his administration’s commitment to the revival of sporting infrastructure to create a conducive environment for talents.
”We have since approved the reopening of non-contact sports as we gradually return to a new normal,” he hinted.
These sports, he said, included Athletics, Table Tennis, Badminton, Squash Racket, Golf, Cricket, Softball and Baseball, among others.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Football House, the first and only one standing in Nigeria, was constructed by the Kwara Football Association.
The construction was with the financial support of the AbdulRazaq-led administration and Alhaji Abdulhakeem Usman-Mustapha, an Ilorin-born football enthusiast and President of the Appeal Committee, Confederation of Africa Football (CAF).
The governor commended Pinnick for his great works at the NFF and his long-standing contributions to the round leather game.
”We have seen transformation in football since you came in. We are glad that we are benefitting in Kwara and continue with the legacy being laid down, especially with the Football House,” he said.
He also commended the Aiteo for its contributions to football, especially in Kwara, saying that the government remained grateful to and would immortalise former Gov. George Inni for the sport facilities he built in Kwara.
”Also, we have not forgotten Rashidi Yekini, we also look forward to getting something good to immortalise him,” he stated
On the Football House, the governor hailed the leadership of the state football association for its hard work and investment.
According to him, the state’s investment, aligned with the decision of the administration to restore the glory of Kwara, across various sectors, including sports.
He noted that this has led to massive rehabilitation works on roads, hospitals, schools, and sporting facilities, that captured the essence and history of the state.
“One of them is the baseball court. I want to reassure sport lovers that the same gesture will be extended to the long-abandoned indoor sports hall at this stadium, while new facilities would also be put in place.
”The second is about rewarding good legacies. I have been briefed that this facility is to be renamed after the Wali of Ilorin, Alhaji Usman Mustapha. I believe this is befitting,” he said.
The governor commended Mustapha for his support in the furnishing of the facility, while describing him as being a pride of the state.
Also speaking, Pinnick said his team at the NFF was determined to develop football in Nigeria, particularly at the grassroots level.
“When Barrister A.U Mustapha and I decided to go to Accra, Ghana, one of the requests we made was to have a football house in all the 36 states of the federation.
“We started with six and today by the special grace of God we are commissioning the first one in Kwara State.
”This is quite symbolic because we have the governor that cares.
“It is quite epochal, because we have a governor that believes in the development of football.
“This is made possible because the governor understands that football is part of the large ecosystem in which a player can make a career and channel it into a productive youth, not just for entertainment, but also feeding their family,” he said.
The NFF boss then appealed for the renaming of the Kwara State Stadium Complex after the late Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini.
Pinnick then presented the last batch of Nigeria’s most celebrated jersey to the governor, ahead of the presentation of a new national jersey next week.
The President CAF Appeal Committee Usman-Mustapha, expressed optimism that with the renewed support of Gov. AbdulRazaq’s administration in the sports sector, Kwara would soon regain its lost glory in the sector.
The Kwara Football Association Chairman Abdullahi Idris, on his part, lauded the NFF for facilitating the building from Aiteo and thanked the state government for the continuous support to the sports sector.
Idris specifically commended the governor for approving the construction of the facility even before he ever met with the Kwara Football Association team.
”This shows that all the governor cares about, is fixing things for the good of our people,” he said.
By Usman Aliyu