By: Kelvin Omachonu
Albeit arguable, being a part of the Katanga clan is one rear privilege some students of the prestigious University of Ibadan aren’t privy to. However, most recently, the Great Katanga Republic has lost some of its glamour as regards both sporting activities and facilities, as the last session saw Katanga Warriors sent packing out of the Inter Hall competition.
When you walk through the main entrance of the Great Independence Hall, looking to your left, what greets you is the sight of the Independence Hall Maracana – a ground where Katangites, and non Katangites show their prowess in the round leather game. Asides from playing, it could also be a place to catch fun, as banters are always ready to be served cold to any unfortunate being who suffers an humiliating dribble.
This mini stadium is one of those things that gives the hall its identity. In fact, the Maracana is one major thing that stands the hall out when juxtaposed with other halls in UI. However, the “edifice” has become more of an eyesore, as it has nothing to write home about in terms of facilities. A look at the Maracana would make one realise that the Independence Hall pitch is more of a health hazard than a football pitch.
The barricades that are supposed to serve as barricades are gone, especially behind the goalposts. The ones that line the length of the pitch are bad and worn out. And if one is not careful, you could easily sustain a severe injury if your legs come in contact with the sharp, worn out edges.
For observant eyes, on both ends, the concrete slabs which the barricade nets were cast upon, are shot out already, probably due to mild erosion. Those slabs are dangerous, and considering the kind of physical football that is played in that arena, those slabs should be taken care of to prevent any form of mishap. Many players have gotten themselves injured after hitting the slabs with their feet. Meanwhile, the goal net itself needs an overhaul. The nets are always either sagging or torn, and the only time they got replaced is during the inter-floor competition. Nonetheless, the nets are always substandard.
The playing surface of the Maracana is not left out. On a rainy day, you would have to kill the thoughts of playing food football, except you are ready to hit the floor with a thud and get mud smeared over your body.
What’s the Way Forward?
The Sports Secretary of the hall – Mr. Jesubiyi Damilare – has recently resumed office, it would be quite hasty to begin assessing his performance given the short time. However, it is worthy of note that he did not state anything about the renovation of the Maracana in his manifesto, largely due to his ‘excuse’ of not wanting to make promises he won’t fulfill . It didn’t help matters that he was quite indifferent when the question popped up about the poor state of the pitch. Nevertheless, he could be cut some slack, as his predecessors always complained about meagre budgets.
It is sad that the value system in Nigeria has hit rock bottom. A few hours or days of enjoyment would be readily chosen over years of safety. My views, however radical, if given some thought, would be indeed logical. Session after session, monies are doled out for the celebration hall week. What if the budget is cut down to accommodate the renovation of the pitch? After all, a week without dancing wildly to loud music or eating free beans would do no harm to our sanity.
However, it is my advice that you secure your appropriate football gear before you take to the pitch and it is only fair that you arm yourselves with your boots, hose, and shin guards to protect yourself while playing on Indy’s Maracana.