Some athletes and coaches have kicked against the activities of a betting company inside the Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre, Rowe Park in Yaba, Lagos State.
Newsmen who visited the venue reports that a betting company (names withheld) was sited beside the shooting range inside the sports complex.
Some of the athletes who spoke to Newsmen said that having a betting shop in a sporting centre was not ideal for a place where underage athletes visit regularly.
A wrestling coach who pleaded anonymity expressed disappointment with the management of the sports centre for allowing such an activity in a sporting environment.
“Since the sitting of the betting shop inside this sports centre, many young athletes spend less time in their sporting activities compared with the time they spend at the betting shop.
“I can never imagine we will have such thing taking place inside Rowe Park. It is bad and I expect the management to do the needful in addressing this ugly situation,’’ he said.
A Judo coach, who also did not want to be named, said that the betting activities at the sports centre would encourage young people who come for sporting activities to steal money from their parents and stake it.
The coach urged the management to consider the future of the young athletes above monetary gains.
“Things like this only encourage young athletes to steal from their parents; the betting company should be sent packing immediately, the future of the athletes should be considered above monetary gains,’’ the coach said.
Moses Akinleye, an Arm wrestler told Newsmen that though he enjoys participating in the betting game.
He, however, said that a betting shop was not supposed to be located inside the sports centre.
“I like playing the game; I either spend money meant for my feeding or borrow money from people to participate.
“It is gradually becoming an habit for some of us that visit Rowe Park regularly, but I don’t think it is ideal to have a betting shop located inside the sports centre,’’ he said.
A basketball player who also pleaded anonymity said that the betting company should be ask to vacate the premises before things got out of hand.
Bolaji Yusuf, the Senior Special Assistant to Gov. Akinwumi Ambode on Sports Facilities and Management told NAN that proper investigations would be conducted on how the betting company got to Rowe Park.
“The Lagos State Sports Commission will not encourage any act which is against best known practices in sports.
“I am not aware of how the company was given the right to open a shop inside Rowe Park.
“As matter of rule, the commission will not allow any of its sports centres in the state to be used as betting centres.
“But, we will investigate how the company got to Rowe Park and take a decision as soon as possible,’’ he said.