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Coach to Youths: How to be Soccer Stars

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Coach to Youths: How to be Soccer Stars

By Felix Kuyinu

Encouraged by the megabucks and international prestige of soccer stars, hundreds of youths are spending more time on local pitches and playgrounds to tone their skills at the leather game.

Football academies now compete with higher institutions for the admission of young school leavers who dream of a day when foreign coaches would spot them and invite them to international clubs.

Others could not wait that long. They process visa to foreign countries ostensibly for further education, but their eyes are focussed on presenting themselves to potential soccer clubs.

Sports enthusiast and football coach, Victor Collins, has offered them a strategy to achieve their dreams.

Collins, who spoke in an interview with Echonews, lamented the recent trend of playing five aside killing the game because it does not bring out the best in the players.

He also said many youths are not fully committed to the game but eyeing the money, adding that those who have excelled in the game were first and foremost committed to the game and not the money.

He called on the government at local and state levels and philanthropists to fund competitions to bring out the best in the teams and players.

His words: “If we don’t have competitions, we can’t have players. Sport is a very important area of our lives, especially for the youths. Sport can persuade a youth to shun all bad ideas and acts such as cultism, rape, robbery and others.”

He also urged local governments in Oshodi-Isolo to provide conducive places for sports activities, noting that provision of sporting facilities is a good way to take the youths away from crime and encourage them to interact positively.

According to him, “We have lots of spaces in the community that can contain various sports here in the Estate and in Ejigbo generally. During the tenure of Hon. Kehinde Bamigbetan as the Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA, he made provision for basketball court here in the Estate, we had it around our sport field but due to some events, it is no more available. But I can tell you that the Estate community is planning to make one available soon alongside Handball, Volleyball, one that can also be managed for Badminton and other sports. We are still on it and we hope the government would allow it to stay.”

He advised the youths seeking a career in soccer to make up their mind early and follow the steps of accomplished soccer stars.

“My advice to them is to follow the footsteps of those who have thrived in the game. They also have to listen attentively to their coaches, do the needful and be prayerful, not only in football but in their everyday lives and shun any act which can be incriminating.”

Urging parents to allow their children who have the passion for sports to develop interest, Coach Collins said sports offer so many opportunities today for income and jobs.

“I will tell the parents that there is nothing bad in going into sports. Sport is very good. It’s a way to become successful in life. The same way these parents give their children educational talk, they can add sports to that. I think the parents should be thinking of impacting on their children how to merge sport and academics together. Even in schools, they do sports so our children should be encouraged towards sports.”

He advised those who aspire to be coaches to get certified and attend seminars and workshops where coaches are trained on all aspects of their sports.

“At first, I will tell my fellow coaches to get certified as a coach. Getting certified means having the training as to the coaching job. No coach should be at a spot with what he is seeing on the Television or what he reads online. Every coach needs to go for courses and be upgraded to impact to these aspiring footballers. I have my NIS certificate with me, and I even want to study further,” he said.

Full text of the interview

How did you start sports coaching activities?

I have gone through a lot in sports, football precisely. I remember when the primary and some secondary schools were established here on Jakande Estate. I gathered some boys who were interested in becoming successful footballers. They were mainly residents of our community here. It all started that way and I was happy with the turnout of boys back then.

Examining the situation of sports on Jakande Estate now, what is your take? 

As it is now, I think we still need to orientate our youths to get involved in sporting activities. In the Estate now, I don’t think the youths have really recognized sports to a creditable level anymore like in the past. What I think some of them do, a few of them I have to say, is to come out and play this 5-aside game and that isn’t what sport should be all about. They should be inclined about sports. If you want to be a footballer, you be a footballer. If you want to be a boxer, be a boxer; if you want to be a basketball player, be a basketball player. An athlete, a runner, go for it fully.

Do the youths at the grassroots especially in this locality have access to these sports you mentioned? 

We have lots of spaces in the community that can contain various sports here in the Estate and in Ejigbo generally. During the tenure of Hon. Kehinde Bamigbetan as the Chairman of Ejigbo LCDA, he made provision for basketball court in Ejigbo here in the Estate, we had it around our sport field but due to some events, it is no more available. But I can tell you that the Estates community is planning to make one available soon alongside Handball, Volleyball, one that can also be managed for Badminton and other sports. We are still on it and we hope the government would allow it to stay.

Many youths shy away from sport, could it be because they don’t know the benefits inherent in it?

I believe sport has lots of advantages which can be derived by anyone who engages in it. If you go into sport, you will keep yourself healthy. You keep yourself fit against health hazards. It regulates you and also makes you develop your children to love sports. Apart from that, they can make their living from the sport to serve as employment opportunity for them in the future.

What are those issues that need to be addressed in ensuring that there is an acceptable level of sports enjoyed by residents in Ejigbo as a whole?

Part of the issues affecting sports in Jakande Estate, and I would say the biggest one is that of our leaders not seeing sports as an important factor in our society. We don’t get those encouragement we need to take sports to greater heights. We, coaches, have been trying our best.

In what ways do you think the government can come in?

The government can support and encourage sports in Oshodi-Isolo by providing a conducive environment for sporting activities. They can also create competitions which would bring about love of sports in the minds of our youths. We have some locations here in Lagos where competitions have been staged by either their representatives at the National Assembly and their Council Chairmen. I will give names of those areas. We have the Ojodu Berger soccer competitions, Lagos Island and Oworosoki competitions, Senator Munir Muse competitions. If we don’t have competitions, we can’t have players. Sport is a very important area of our lives, especially for the youths. Sport can persuade a youth to shun all bad ideas and acts such as cultism, rape, robbery and others. I wish the government can see in that direction and take necessary actions towards the realization of this in our community.

It is presumed that players have graced the Moshood Abiola Stadium here in the Estate and now playing overseas. Does the Estate have any record of that? 

Of course, there is. As I said, competitions do bring about players. Some competitions have been staged which have resulted in the discovery of good players. Lukmon Anifaloyin, who was my player in the days of MSI Football Club here on the Estate now plays for Lalo Football Club, Australia. Before then, he was with FC Pristine. Others include Mikail Abubakar, who trained under me. I bred him as a player. He was also a former resident of this Estate like Anifaloyin. He was the top scorer of the last two editions of the Jakande Estate Football Competition which his team won.

Due to his football potentials and prospects, I was persuaded to allow him play for FC Ebiede, owned by the elder brother of the former Super Eagles midfielder, Sunday Oliseh. He has been named the top scorer at the Maritime Cup. I also have Odunayo Idowu, also a former resident here in the Estate. He now plies his trade in the Regional League in Brazil and doing really well.

Also part of my boys back then, Ahmed Tijani, who plays in the Azerbaijan League and lots of them – Akeem Okanlawon, Tobi Fashesi. I wouldn’t forget the former Super Eagles attacker, Emmanuel Emenike who wasn’t a direct player under me, but he still played under me during my days with Akwane FC. Emenike who is an African Cup of Nations winner with the Nigeria Super Eagles now plays in Turkey. Also in Turkey, there is Ogenyi Onazi and Taiye Taiwo both Super Eagles players. We also have Sunday Stevens who played for Spain at the FIFA Junior World Cup and Tu Eskey who plays in the United States of America League. These are just part of those names of players who started playing here in the Estate.

So, tell us how it feels to have groomed these players before the pursuit of their career in Europe? 

It’s a happy feeling. It’s actually in two ways. First, because they are successful, and secondly, because some of them do remember their grassroots and they remember me with what they can give out. I give God the glory and wish them more success.

Let’s talk about those aspiring to reach that level or even go beyond. What admonition would you give to them? 

My advice to them is to follow the footsteps of those who have thrived in the game. They also have to listen attentively to their coaches, do the needful and be prayerful in their doings, not only in football but in their everyday lives and shun any acts which can be incriminating.

A number of these boys don’t have the approval of their parents to go into sports. Some parents want their children to go into academics. What’s your take on this? 

I will tell the parents that there is nothing bad in going into sports. Sport is very good. It’s a way to become successful in life. The same way these parents give their children that educational talk, they can add sports to that. I think the parents should be thinking of impacting on their children how to merge sport and academics together. Even in schools, they do sports so our children should be encouraged towards sports.

Lastly sir, what advice would you give to your colleagues in the coaching world, particularly at the grassroots? 

At first, I will tell my fellow coaches to get certified. Getting certified means having the training to coaching. No coach should be at a spot with what he is seeing on the Television or what he reads online. Every coach needs to go for courses and be upgraded to have impact on these aspiring footballers. I have my NIS certificate with me, and I even want to study further. We are taught the way players are managed. It would surely help in helping these youths

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