Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The rise and rise of athlete power!

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By the boss According to Odegbami

I have waited a long time for a period like this to come. Now, it can be here. I can see the faint contours of an emerging superforce that can drive essential change that can alter the face and destiny of sports in Nigeria, forever, forever.

Social media is the fuel that drives this phenomenon with ongoing conversations on the platforms of various athletes, telling their stories and discussing their plight. For the first time, differences are set aside and discussions have been frank. Crises are being resolved between groups and individuals at war, with a message of new hope.

Now there is a different route to a better future. It has begun to sink in that until athletes come together on a common front and fight for their own cause, they will continue to languish in neglect, marginalized from the administration of sport, where their success lies beyond their athletic careers.

In all sports, what matters most is the athlete. Everything is in place and in order so that the athlete can perform and excel. Success, even for the manager, is measured only by the success of the athletes on the field, on the courts, or on the track. So the lives of athletes matter.

Conveying its relevance from the field to the boardroom has not been easy.

As a digression, let me go back to an incident in the early days of my retirement and my adventure in administration.

You should have heard some good advice from boss Jonathan Ogufere, former president of P and T Vasco Dagama FC, Enugu, former president of the West African Football Union, WAFU, former board member of the Nigerian Football Association, NFA . Ten years after I retired from active participation in soccer, he met me one night at the NFA secretariat inside the facilities of the National Stadium, Surulere, called me aside and had a very interesting conversation with me about my activities since that I got out of football, and the future that he envisioned.

He read the fire in my eyes, understood the direction I intended to take, and then gave me his advice in a calm and measured tone, with no intention of offending my sensibilities or dampening my enthusiasm, passion, and determination to go into politics. of football and administration where he also believed that he could begin to influence the rapid and positive development of football.

He advised me that my transition from the soccer field to the boardroom should be gradual and strategic, even though I was eminently qualified to aspire to the highest position in Nigerian soccer.

He advised me that since he and some of his colleagues in the hallways might influence him, he should aspire to the position of Secretary General of the NFA, get a proper education and a foundation in football administration politics, and then launch a candidacy for the presidency. The SG’s office was by simple appointment that they could influence and get me in. It was also an office that he could use to mobilize and galvanize the most passive, most powerful, but wasteful force in Nigerian sports: footballers.

I should have listened to him and reasoned with him more. I was in too much of a hurry. Strangely, I was stubborn. I didn’t think deep enough.

I even raised funds privately to organize the largest assembly of Nigerian international footballers in history to support my silent vision and ambition. I invited them from all over the country, transported them and housed them at the Hotel Stadium of Dr. Víctor Olaiya. These were the survivors of Nigeria’s first national team, the 1949 UK Tourists, down to the national team players at the time of the conference in the early 1990s.

The conference was attended by Isaac Akioye, Justin Onwudiwe, Peter Anieke, (all members of the 1949 British Tourists) Chukwuma Nzeogwu, Okwudili Daniel, Johnny Egwuonu, Paul Hamilton, Ismaila Mabo, ‘Daimond Toe’ Baby Anieke, Cyril Asoluka, Haruna Ilerika , Victor Oduah, Godwin Etemike, Simeon Njoku, various members of the 1973 African Games team, my own colleagues Okala, Chukwu, Otubusen, Nwankwo, etc. It was the largest congregation of international footballers that represented Nigeria before independence in 1960 until around 1990.

However, Chief Ogufere said that I needed to walk cautiously towards the new world I was heading to; I needed to crawl and crouch to conquer. Specifically, he told me that he would support any step I take to become the Secretary General of the Nigerian Football Federation, before later attempting to become its president.

I should have listened, but I didn’t. I have not blamed anyone for how my attempts were to enter the boardroom of Nigerian football because when I got to the gates, at the elections, the people I met there were ‘aliens’ from another planet.

There wasn’t even one person from the gamer fraternity, people we grew up with, living a close life, cultivating lifelong friendships, sharing rooms, doing everything together, eating together, wearing common clothes, thinking as one, playing games. as one, winning and losing together, he was part of the electorate.

In everything, we were an inseparable team with a common mission and goal: to win and succeed.

That is what we are as athletes. We feed and grow on that community diet. By the time we get out of sports as athletes, the biggest mistake we make is thinking that the rest of the world who adored us and adored us during the days we entertained and made them happy would stay with us in the boardroom. We’re wrong. It is a different world.

The shock of discovering that new world and dealing with it has become an almost insurmountable challenge for us as athletes, particularly Nigerian athletes.

That is why we have become victims of the prevailing situation in which those in other camps have ruled our affairs and left us clinging to the shorter end of the stick, groping for survival, to care for our own affairs with understanding, to occupy us. take care of ourselves and lift ourselves out of the gloom of depression, frustration, poverty, and neglect.

Times seem to be changing with social media connecting the dots of our community.

The Players Union has resolved its long crisis and is now united and growing stronger. The Nigerian Olympians Association is also growing in strength and relevance with some of its leaders receiving international assignments with the International Olympic Committee. In fact, the future looks very bright. The power of athletes is on the rise!

Ike Sorounmu goes back to his roots!

SOCA advances to a new level.

Charity begins at home. So let me start with mine.

The International Sports Academy According to Odegbami, SOCA, advances to a new level in comprehensive education for school students. Starting this weekend and biweekly thereafter, the school will host prominent personalities who have demonstrated the values ​​and conduct that the scholarship requires for students to emulate and immerse themselves in.

These biweekly guests will traverse all strata of society, as long as their story adds some value to the education of girls and boys at the academy.

The list is long and impressive. It includes distinguished academics, artists, sports personalities, sociocultural and political leaders, industry captains, celebrities, and individuals who have distinguished themselves with honor in their various fields.

It kicks off this weekend with a modest ‘pilot’ visit from a former international soccer star, a player who had part of his early soccer development as a student at United Comprehensive High School, Wasimi. Later he played for some clubs in Lagos and Ibadan, was invited to the national soccer team before moving abroad for a professional career in Switzerland and Turkey for more than a decade. He went to the 2002 World Cup with the Super Eagles and was team captain during some games.

Since his retirement, he has coached some Nigerian clubs and the national team as one of the goalkeeping coaches.

This Saturday, May 1, Ike Sorounmu will return to his roots when he arrives as the first guest of SOCA in a new initiative to inspire the students of the academy with the presence and words of role models in society.

The town of Wasimi Orile is enthusiastically preparing for Ike’s visit just as the academy has taken small steps to establish its own agricultural farms, a first step towards self-sufficiency in food production. In the coming weeks, the fish, yam, cassava, snail and lawn mower farms should be up and running.

There is a long list of proposed visitors from international sports, music and cinema. and cultural giants, to political leaders, academics, political leaders, and captains of industry.

It all starts this weekend.

Quote: “As athletes, the biggest mistake we make is to think that the rest of the world who adored us and adored us throughout the days that we entertained and made them happy, would stay with us”

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