By Taiwo Alimi
It was an ensemble of the crème de la crème of ex-international, footballers, administrators and politicians when the Odion Ighalo 02 Arena Ajegunle was commissioned last week by Lagos State Commissioner for Youths, Sports and Social Development, Hon. Segun Dawodu.
The standard astro-turf pitch located inside the famous Tolu Nursery Primary School, where many famous Nigerian players of Ajegunle heritage had caught football bug, is named after Super-Eagles and Manchester striker, Odion Jude Ighalo, for his benevolence and works to touch lives of the people of Ajegunle in Ajeromi-Ifelodun LG.
To commemorate the historic commissioning, scores of ex-players took to the pitch to show their skills with Team Ayoola named after Hon. Fatai Adekunle Ayoola, chairman of Ajeromi-Ifelodun LGA and Team Ajide, after Hon. Tajudeen Ajide, chairman of Surulere LGA.
According to Hon. Ayoola, naming the pitch after Ighalo was to encourage budding talents in Ajegunle to aspire for greatness.
“This decision to name these edifices after Ighalo is to show that our government recognizes and commend those who makes Ajegunle proud at global stage,” he began.
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“And with this, we are proud to officially announced Odion Jude Ighalo as Ajegunle Ambassador,” he added.
During a video call with the Ajegunle born striker, an elated Ighalo promised to continue his practice of developing budding football talents in Ajegunle.
The cameo appearance of Surulere LGA chairman, Hon. Ajide was the morale booster for Team Ajide who squared up with Team Ayoola led by former Super Eagles defender Ifeanyi Udeze in the novelty football match to declare open the Odion Jude Ighalo 02 Arena.
Speaking, Hon. Ajide commended the initiative which he said would encourage the catch-em-young programme of the LG. “As a footballer first before becoming a politician and a social worker, I know that it is important to invest in people as it is the best legacy you can leave for your people.”
Some of the Super-Eagles veterans who played the novelty football match include Godwin Okpara, Monday Odiaka, Ebun Oloyede, Segun Fetuga, Wasiu Ipaye, Festus Odinni, Jonathan Akpoborie, Peter Nieketin, Don Keffe, and Emmanuel Etu.
Others are Edema Benson, Bremner Alada, Tajudeen Disu, Gani Akanni, Taiwo Oloyede and Mc Anthony Anaelechukwu.
Interestingly, Ighalo was born and bred in Ajegunle and the field that was named in his honor was the same pitch where he learnt the rope as a boy. The Shanghai Shenhua player was represented by his brother who presented a customized jersey signed by Ighalo to Hon. Ayoola.
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