The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has said the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna will be ready in time for the FIFA Women’s U20 World Cup in July 2020.
He made the assertion following assurances from the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, that the state will render all the necessary support.
The minister, who made this promise while on a tour of the facilities at the 55-year-old stadium on Tuesday, commended its state of repairs. He, however, noted that more needed to be done to further improve on its existing state.
Defying a heavy downpour, the minister inspected the main bowl football pitch, the two training pitches, the lawn tennis courts, the 48-room hostel, gymnasium, changing rooms, and other facilities in the complex.
Mr Dare told journalists that the management of the stadium performed impressively in maintaining the aging facility, despite funding challenges.
“There’s room for improvement but I must commend the people tasked with keeping this complex in shape,” the minister said.
“They have kept the place in fairly good condition. We shall improve on this and get this place in top condition towards the 2020 Under-20 Female World Cup billed for next year.”
The minister, who kicked off his tour with a visit to the governor, Mr El-Rufai, commended the state government for its commitment to grassroots sports and uplifting the youth through friendly competitions.
He said this connects well with his ministry’s larger mandate to unite and empower the youth through sports and other productive activities.
Mr El-Rufai had at a meeting before the tour given the assurance that the state will support in making the Ahmadu Bello Stadium ready for the tournament. He said the state is prioritising sports as an avenue for gainfully engaging youths.
The minister thanked the governor for promising to provide funding for the maintenance of the Ahmadu Bello Stadium.
“The Kaduna governor is in tune with the federal government’s ambitious plans to direct the passion, creativity and energy of the Nigerian youth to lucrative and noble ventures. We welcome his desire to see this stadium go back to its glory days.
“Kaduna has produced sporting icons like the late Sunday Bada, Daniel Amokachi, Celestine Babayaro and Juliana Negedu. These great individuals gave their prime to this nation and I am certain that we can find more like them today, even in other sports. Therefore, the promise by the Kaduna State Government is very much welcome indeed.”
The minister, who rode the Abuja – Kaduna train on both legs of the trip, was received by the Kaduna State Commissioner of Sports Development, Kabir Mato.