These guys who lost their lives in Calabar could have been you and I. We better learn from this tragic history.
As we continue to grieve for the football fans who died on Thursday, April 20 at a view centre in Calabar, it’s time we start paying attention to the threatening state of our viewing centres.
My earliest memory of a viewing centre was in 2000 in Agbor, Delta State where I grew up. The viewing centre was constructed ahead of Euro 2000 after the owner got tired of people crowding his sitting room to watch Premier League and Champions League games.
It was the only viewing centre in the small town of Agbor at that time, five years later, a couple others sprung up. In 2017 there is one for almost every street in the town.
Nigerian football enthusiasts who were born in the 80s and early 90s have a similar experience with viewing centres.
As the love for the game spread, viewing centres have become the very soul of football in Nigeria. At a Nigerian viewing centre, you feel everything that makes football so special. The passion, the warmth, the joy, the disappointment.
With the high cost of subscribing to cable (DSTV), lack of constant electricity, etc, view centres have solved lots of problems for the increasing number of football lovers in Nigeria.
It’s a win, win for everybody. It has also provided employment opportunities for operators of these viewing centres.
There is, however, a problem; most of the viewing centres in Nigeria are makeshift structures constructed with negligence at susceptible positions. Think back now, you will remember watching football in viewing centres dangerously very close to a major road, near a transformer, under a high tension cable.
It’s time we start paying attention to these things.
The government agency responsible here should make sure anywhere people converge for recreational, religious or other legal purposes are safe.
Church, mosque, bars, restaurants, markets, viewing centres etc. Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.
These guys who lost their lives in Calabar could have been you and I. We better learn from this tragic history or be doomed to repeat it.