Day 96 of 365: Teslim Balogun made up for NSL

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Photo shows The Lagos Teslim Balogun Stadium, one of the centres that has been selected on May 21, 2009 to host the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria between October and November, 2009. FIFA Vice President Jack Warner was not impressed with the standard of four of the six centres that have been selected to host the matches, and expressed his disappointment about the shoddy preparations and warned of possible withdrawal of the event from Nigeria should the country fail to meet with FIFA standards. Warner further revealed that Warri Stadium was denied hosting the soccer fiesta because of the prevailing security situation in Niger Delta. AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

After going to watch a game at the National Stadium Lagos (NSL) situated in Surulere, I had made up my mind never to go watch any game at a Nigerian Stadium. I went to watch Taribo West and Friends at the National Stadium back in 1999 and I remembered how my aunty didn’t want me to go despite my brothers and cousins begging her to allow me. She didn’t agree at first but I think I got into some kind of mood and days later she obliged me though her son played a big part.

It was a struggle getting a ticket as every outlet seemed to have sold out. I eventually got the ticket from an area man (calling him area boy would have been disrespectful) and he was nice, I mean super nice. He was going to sell the ticket at 150 Naira which was 50 Naira more than the original price. He however sold it to me for 100 Naira and told me he sold it to me at the established rate because I was a small boy.

My experience at the Stadium was horrible though, hence my vouching never to watch a game in a Nigerian Stadium. My experience at Old Trafford reaffirmed my position and I have even gotten offers to go watch some league games at the Agege Stadium but I declined.

At the NSL when I was there that day in 1999, some of the fans were pissed the big name players expected on the day didn’t turn up with the great Ronaldo De Lima one of them. At some point during the game the fans peed in pet bottles and pure water sachets and start flinging them onto the pitch. One of the incidences that scarred me. You can read about my original account here via http://www.dipowrites.com/my-first-and-only-trip-to-the-national-stadium-in-lagos-part-1/.

Fast forward to 2021, I got a VIP Ticket to go watch the Super Eagles against Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, thanks to Mr. Bode Oguntuyi aka the Oracle. I didn’t want to go but they say you don’t refuse gifts from your elders let alone a mentor or a senior man in sports broadcasting and reporting. I also got to meet Super Eagles legend Etim Esin thanks to Mr. Oguntuyi again.

Getting into the Stadium was a struggle but I eventually got in and truly all Covid-19 protocols were in place so hopefully more matches would be staged at the Teslim Balogun Stadium. I enjoyed every single minute at the Stadium and I even saw a few family and friends. To cap it all up, the Super Eagles of Nigeria beat Lesotho 3:0 with goals from Victor Osimhen, Oghenekharo Etebo and Paul Onuachu.

Will I go to watch football at any Nigerian Stadium again? Maybe, just maybe but Teslim Balogun truly made up for my horrible National Stadium experience in 1999.

CHEERS!!!

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