In keeping with the commitment to promote the wellbeing and development of our communities, Coca-Cola recently completed the expansion and modernization of one of the oldest community youth and sports centres in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling capital city.
The center, originally constructed by the Lagos State Government on a fenced 2-acre parcel of land, consisted of a dusty football field and a hall with a small standing pavilion as well as electricity, water and sanitation facilities, most of which were in varying states of disrepair. Over the years, the center has served young football enthusiasts in the community and environs as a ready ‘field’ for daily practice and matches. It also served as easily accessible venue for vocational training and community events.
With a fast-growing population (estimated at over 15 million) and high unemployment rate, keeping the city’s teeming youth productively engaged and away from social vices is a key priority of the government. The construction of new or reactivation of fully equipped youth and sports centres in communities is part of measures being implemented by the government to create opportunities for young people to pursue occupational interests in sports or vocational trades.
Coca-Cola responded to this need in 2015 by adopting the Araromi Youth and Sports Centre located in Gbagada, a Lagos suburb and which is famous as the field where some of Nigeria’s best-known football stars, including Obafemi Martins, cut their teeth in the game. With approval by the Lagos State Government, the Company embarked on the expansion and modernization of the centre which were completed in January 2018.
The project involved the construction of an 11-Aside football grassed pitch equipped with flood lights, 2 sets of dugouts for reserve players; a 1,000-seating capacity pavilion with ramps for disabled persons, changing rooms for players and referees, 2 units of VIP lounges, an administrative office and a parking lot. The existing multipurpose hall was refurbished and expanded to 150 seating capacity multipurpose hall while the electricity generating set, water borehole and toilet facilities were also refurbished.
At the project handover ceremony attended by high ranking government officials and other stakeholders, the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Mrs. Oluranti Adebule commended Coca-Cola for its pivotal role in developing football in the country, noting the company’s contributions over the years including the Copa Coca-Cola Under-16 grassroots football programme and urged other corporate organizations to emulate the company.
Bhupendra Suri, Coca-Cola Nigeria Franchise General Manager said the project is part of Coca-Cola’s vision of promoting sustainable communities through social investments.
“We will leverage this facility to provide talented youth in Gbagada area with exposure and mentorship through the football stars who have volunteered to train young players on this pitch.”, Suri added.
The ceremony featured a friendly match between a team of famous Nigerian football stars and the Gbagada community youth team. The impressive line-up of football stars, never before seen in the community, created significant excitement and made the event an unforgettable experience for many of the community members.
With its strategic location on one of the main highways connecting the city’s Island and Mainland districts and leading to the airport, the Araromi Youth and Sports Centre which strongly reflects the Coca-Cola brand, is a highly visible landmark that bears eloquent testimony to Coca-Cola’s commitment to and connection with the city of Lagos and its communities.