…as NFF considers astro-turf for abuja pitch
Enyimba Inaternational Football Club’s return to their home base, is being delayed by the variations in the cost of the construction of the main bowl of the pitch.
However, this unpleasant development, is set to be resolved in the immediate future as the state Governor Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, has promised to intensified efforts to ensure the has much-anticipated return of Peoples Elephant to their home ground.
The People’s Elephants have been playing all their home matches at the U.J.Esuene Stadium in Calabar in the last two seasons and the state government has been making frantic efforts to complete rehabilitation work on the Enyimba Stadium in Aba to bring the team home.
The contractors handling the project are also ready to double their work pace, to see to the completion of the project in record time, as soon as funds are released for the completion of the stadium.
Mr Ebi Egbe, the Chief Executive of Monimichelle Sports Facility Construction Limited, the contractors handling the project, told Journalists on Wednesday, that Enyimba FC is set to return home to play their matches on the cork fibre, geo-tech pitch which would be installed at the Enyimba Stadium.
Egbe, also known in football circles, as ”Moni-lov”, for hius passion for sports development, said that everything was ready for the installation of the synthetic pitch once his firm and the state Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu can agree on the contract variation.
Reliable multi reliable sources, disclosed that the rehabilitation project was originally awrded at the sum N300 million.
Egbe said; “We must bring Enyimba back home to start their CAF Confederation Cup campaign here. once the variation is sorted out, the facilities would be ready by second week of February. The People’s Elephants should be ready to return home by then and trample on visiting opponents,”
” Enyimba FC deserves the best facilities given their stature not only as the darling team of Abia, Nigeria but also as a force to be reckoned with in African club football.
“We must make sure that their stadium meets international standard,” he said.
”To this end, aside from the turf other facilities like the stadium roof, dressing room, electronic score board, among others, would all be upgraded to international standard”.
Monimichele Sports Facility, is presently putting finishing touches to the upgraded the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, which has become cynosure of all eyes in the country and said pledged that the same cork-fibre pitch would be installed at Enyimba Stadium
He explained that the variation was occasioned by the difference in the exchange rates from when the contract was signed and now. “Synthetic grass is very expensive and because of the value of Nigeria’s currency now compared with when we signed the contract, to get the Euro is at additional cost.
”It costs as much as over 200 million Euros to install the grass on a FIFA -standard pitch. The geo-tech pitch, which is in vogue now, is the best for the Enyimba Stadium, which measures about 110 by 74 metres in dimension.
”Most top level players avoid playing on the synthetic pitches scattered all over the country in order to avoid unnecessary injuries.
“Our pitches have zero undulation, however, having been playing on a natural grass in Calabar for two seasons, Enyimba players would need two to three months to get accustomed to the world-class facility being put in place for the team.
Egbe however, suggested that for a smooth period of adjustment to the new pitch ,the team should relocate to the Samson Siasia Stadium in Yenagoa, because it has the same culture and characteristics with the proposed Aba surface.
Abia State Commissioner for Sports, Dr Martins Okoji, on behsalf of the state government pledged that the re-grassing of the Stadium would be completed by February 24.
He added that the project has been a very serious issue which has been receiving adequate attention from the state government.
“The entire Abia people are worried that Enyimba have been playing their matches ‘away’ in the last two seasons.
“The expectation of Abia people is that Enyimba should no more play their matches outside Aba,” .
Meanwhile, reliable sources within the Nigeria Football Federation, has suggested that talks are on-going between the body and Nigeria’s number one s ports facility company, Monimichelle group, to have an artificial turf installed at the Abuja National Stadium.
Discussions are said to involve officials of the Sports Ministry on the proposed installation.
The source said; “The ministry is discussing with Monimichelle sports facility construction company to install an artificial pitch at the Abuja Stadium.
“Nothing has been finalized yet, but artificial turf requires little maintenance and that’s why the decision is being made,” a source said
The playing pitch at the Abuja Stadium has fallen into disrepair from lack of maintenance.