Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode on Saturday unveiled the ‘Football Forever’ statue at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, acknowledging that football remains the most popular sports that keep the nation united even in critical periods.
The statue is a 22ft tall sculpture of four players, two aside, standing on an eight feet concrete pedestal announcing and showcasing the prowess, commitment and passion of Nigerians for the beautiful game.
Speaking at the commissioning, Governor Ambode, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Tourism, Arts and Culture Hon. Adebimpe Akinsola, described the statue as a monument of great value that describes the passion Lagosians and Nigerians bestow upon sports and football in particular.
He said the love and passion Nigerians have for football was an open secret, adding that the artistry of the round leather game depicts a strong pedigree the sports has attained, the pride attached to it by Lagosians and Nigerians in general.
The Governor said, “The Monument seeks to educate the Nigerian youth and all visitors to Lagos State that our passion for sport is not only captured by iconic infrastructure facilities and competitions but include giving opportunity to expose artistic representation of its value creative minds.
“The monument reveals Lagosians dexterity in the game of football and projects our fitness and readiness for glory as it conveys vital sport education knowledge and the promotion of sports tourism in Lagos State.”
Admiring the creativity behind the statue, Hon. Akinsola encouraged all sports enthusiasts to always come around to draw inspiration from the monument.
Explaining the significance of the sculpture, the brain behind the statue, Mr Ade Odunfa said that the inspiration behind the monument was to express the significance of football in the country’s unity.
According to him, “football is a game every youth wants to engage in, hence this monument gives them inspiration to pursue and express their soccer artistry and be committed to the beautiful game.”
In a related development, the State Government also commissioned the statue of ‘From Ebute’ located at the Mobolaji Bank Anthony way, Ikeja and the statue of the ‘Community’ at Ile Zik, Ikeja as part of its effort to tell the history of the State through iconic statues and monuments spread across historical locations in the five divisions of the State.
Akinshola said the ‘From Ebute’ monument represents the lively hub and confluence of people always on the go, the delectable lifestyle, the rich and eventful coastline traditions of people of Lagos State.
According to her the monuments and several others already commissioned in the State symbolize Lagos as an open canvas for creative minds, open to the determined, tough, ambitious and industrious people of the State.
In the same vein, the Special Adviser said the ‘Community’ statue located at Ile Zik, Ikeja, was rightly and timely to celebrate the unity and like-mindedness as a people authenticating the popular saying ‘United we stand, divided we fall’.
According to her, the ‘Community’ statue was inspired from the understanding that success is a product of unity while the beauty and strength of Lagos is her hospitality and the acceptability of people of other cultural backgrounds with a binding cord of unity around us.
“These monuments together therefore seek to celebrate, encourage and implore Lagosians to hold fast to our culture and continue the pursuit of excellence which our State is branded and noted for,” she said.
In his remark on the ‘Community’ statue, Mr. Sobayo of Terra KultureStudio said the art work made up of 57 canoes represent the 20 and the 37 Local Council Development Areas united as a State working together to achieve a common goal of a better Lagos without forgetting its roots embedded in the rivers of accord that the boat sails on.
Corroborating this assertion, Mr. Ade Oduntan, the artist who designed the ‘From Ebute’ statue, said his art work, which is an about 30 feet tall installation of indigenous life size wooden canoes made in fiber glass depict the errant waterways and is meant to keep the memories of the use of canoe as a means of transportation.
The Special Adviser charged residents, especially community leaders and associations, to take ownership of these iconic structures to preserve them for future generations to see, feel and explore.