“Ikorodu was supplying Lagos State Athletes in those days” says Mr Olukunga, former Ikorodu Zonal Sports Director
Prince Agbolade Akeem Olukunga was the Zonal Sports Director in Ikorodu between 1983 and 1988 when sports activities were at its peak. He spoke in an interview with THE IMPACT’s crew led by Its Publisher/Reporter-in-Chief, Kunle Adelabu on various issues ranging from what sports were in Ikorodu during his zonal directorship, acquisition of forty acres for stadium, impacts of sports council to the enviable place of Ikorodu in the Lagos State sports circle among others. Excerpts:
THE IMPACT: Can we meet you sir?
Prince Olukunga: My name is Prince Agbolade Akeem Olukunga. By profession, I am a sports management consultant. By training, I am a sports facility provider and a fitness and wellness instructor and by the grace of God, I am a spreader of God’s words.
THE IMPACT: In what capacity did work then as a sport administrator in Ikorodu and what were sports like then?
Prince Olukunga: There are two different ways to look at that. Between 1983 to 1987 or 1988, I was the Zonal Sports Director in Ikorodu and at that time, sports were at its peak because the officials at that time were committed. They really put Ikorodu sports together and made it what it was at that time. In those days, the Sports Council at that time played a prominent role in promoting sporting activities in Ikorodu. I was posted to Ikorodu to make sure all the 26 sports that time were in Ikorodu. We were supplying Lagos State Athletes, especially in swimming, hockey and in other sports. Out of the 24 swimmers in Lagos team then, we had about eighteen (18) from Ikorodu and they were mainly from the Majidun side of the town. The hockey had the two Orims at that time, Modinat Yusuf and a lot of them. Talk of handball and volleyball, we had the Raimi’ and, Udele’s and when you talk about football, before I left Ikorodu, we had about 11 football clubs in Ikorodu among which were the former Ikorodu United, Nichemtex FC and Igbogbo Bombers. In all ramifications, Ikorodu at that time was bubbling with sporting activities and after picking Mainland because of the impact of Rowe Park, Ikorodu is the next in term of sporting activities and development but you can see what Ikorodu is like now.
THE IMPACT: What is National Association for Physical Health Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance (NASPHER-SD)all about?
Prince Olukunga: National Association for Physical Health Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance is a professional body where all the professionals in Physical Education, recreation and even dance which is now being hijacked by other associations belong. All these professionals must be under this umbrella. It was established in 1966 and it has been in existence since then, though, it has had its turbulent times, and we have all seen where we got it wrong. What do you expect when an accountant or lawyer is made the head of sports? The result won’t be like when a professional is put incharge to handle it. Lagos State chapter of NAPHER-SD, is planning to take a bold step by first ensuring that all its members are registered. We are also planning to have other professionals with sporting backgrounds registered as associate members. In Lagos alone, we have more than ten thousand (10,000) members and by the end of the year, we want to have a gala night where all members will come together. We are also planning to issue a permanent membership number to all registered members, so that anyone who claims membership should be able to show his or her code number. NASPHER-SD Southwest zone recently converged on Teslim Balogun Stadium where we had our congress because we are planning to have the regional chapter. The congress was sponsored by the Lagos State Sports Commission which is very commendable.
THE IMPACT: Sir, do you have Ikorodu branch of NASPHER-SD and if yes, what are you doing about it as son of the soil?
Prince Olukunga: An adage says it is only when your house is in order that you can help in managing other people’s affairs. Ikorodu NAPHER-SD is intact. The present chairman is one Mr. Garba and he is doing well and I think I was in their meeting two (2) months ago. Ikorodu is the only zone that still has all its members intact.
THE IMPACT: Let us go back to the good old days of sports in Ikorodu and compare it to what is obtainable now. Where do you think Ikorodu got it wrong in terms of sporting activities compare to years back when there were sport facilities around?
Prince Olukunga: That is a very good question. Between 1983 to 1987/1988, Ikorodu division could boast of a forty (40) acres of land allocated for sports under late Alhaji Sholaja Alagago, the then chairman of the sport council when I was the zonal director. The man fought tooth and nail to get that forty acres of land and three (3) to four (4) years before I left, we had started playing divisional league there with referees from Lagos coming to officiate matches on the pitch. I wonder what happened to that place. During that time, late Chief Musediku Alogba (Construction One), graded twenty (20) acres out of forty (40) acres which we were making use of. We even had eight lane tracks round the football field and the hockey players were also using the football field to play. Definitely, there were talents then and they had where to go and for training and that they would not be disturbed. Police Barracks Playing Ground provided alternative choices, it is also because it was used when we had two or three matches. But the main question is, what happened to that 40 hectares land? I cannot say because I left Ikorodu when the place is (was) still in use and I did handed-over the place to my successor. I think there is need for sports administrators in Ikorodu to organize a forum where they can brainstorm and find way out of the present situation in Ikorodu sports. During the last Sporst festival, Ikorodu was around 28th on the medal’s table, unlike the usual 2nd or 3rd positions. Sports like swimming, hockey and others are no more. During my own time, I scouted for the fairly minded but rich people. The likes of Otunba Ogunleye (Latagati), Chief Musediku Alogba, one Captain Olushola Lumous and other were put in-charge of different sports at that time and we got the results. I doubt if Ikorodu still have a sport council.
THE IMPACT: Today, we can`t point to a particular structure as sport council`s office here in Ikorodu and even inter-house sports event in secondary schools is not what it used to be in the past. How can we revive sports in Ikorodu?
Prince Olukunga: I want the indigenes and sports loving people in Ikorodu to come together and have a symposium and at the end, get a communique to the Lagos State Sports Commission that they want their zonal sport council back. Without a zonal council office, there cannot be coordinated sporting activity in Ikorodu. Like when I was young I mastered five sports and when I became the sport officer, I became the coach when there wasn`t any coach. So, the commission has to go back to the basis. Zonal officers were the feeders of Lagos Sports Festival in those days which was why Ikorodu was always at the top because it was the duty of the zonal officials to ensure that every sport were developed in their domains. I won`t be surprised if there is no Sports Commission office in Ikorodu. Since I left Ikorodu as the Sports Director, I have been wandering to see where the sports council is located in the town without any success. So, let us come together, discuss and find a way forward for sports development in Ikorodu. ,
THE IMPACT: As an individual and a sports administrator, what is your plan for sport in Ikorodu?
Prince Olukunga: That is a difficult question to answer. You work better when you are in an office. I was an official of the Sports Council and was able to get things done at that time but I am no longer in that capacity anymore. Although, I cannot be out of sports, which is why I have a Sport Consult where people come with different Sporting issues and I give solutions, but as a person, I don`t think I can do anything unless the Ikorodu people converge to discuss on ways to forge ahead and when such happens, I will be available and will be willing to be part the solution. I can still deploy my connection in getting the Sports Commission to come to our aid when we have agreed on way out. The questions we should be pondering over is how can we bring back sports council and divisional stadium?
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