By Uche Enem
Hello readers, it’s been a while we looked at some of our sports men and women. In this edition, we will x ray the life of Joseph Okechukwu Aniedobe. Presently, Aniedobe works at the Anambra State Signage & Advertising Agency (ANSAA), Awka and belongs to so many sports committee. He hails from Ezira village in Nimo of Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State. He was born 10th December, 1954 at Port Harcourt and started his infant education there too.
Can you share your education experiences with us?
I started my elementary education at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Port Harcourt. I left Port Harcourt when my father was transferred to Aba as a Civil Servant who worked with the Prison Department. This made me to complete my elementary education in Christ the King School (CKS), Aba in 1960/1961. I got into St. Paul’s Secondary School Aba in the early 60’s but when the civil war broke out, I couldn’t go to school anymore and so I finished my Secondary School after the war in Ogbo Hill, Aba 1971. After I left Secondary School, I began the search for a job. By then, I had already gotten my Royal Society of Arts, London Certificate, GCE and WAEC. In the process of looking for a job, I found myself playing Football for Aba Giant Killers which has now metamorphosed to Enyimba Football Club, Aba. After sometime in Aba Giant Killer Team, I started playing for Textile Mill Aba because we wanted a job there.
In 1972/ 1973, when we played against Rangers FC It was a combination of Textile Mills and Aba Giant Killers against the Rangers FC. In 1973, I was selected to play for Eastern Central State Academicals against Lagos State Team at Surulere Stadium, Lagos. At the end of the game, we were defeated with 2-1. After the match, I was part of the people selected to make up Nigeria Academicals that played against Ghana Academicals in 1973 and we defeated them with 4-1 at Surulere Stadium, Lagos. After the match, I went back to Aba and Chief Clifford Eleli came to Aba with Coach Paulinus Nzerem and the driver. They inquired where I lived and located me in my brother’s shop at Aba. They discussed with me and told me how they admired my games. So they took me off that same day to Enugu and that’s was how I found myself in Rangers camp that night. So I kept training with them until December 1974 when I became officially recruited to be a member of Rangers Football Club. I played the Challenge Cup of 1974/75/76 and we won for three times. We also won the Africa Cup in 1977. I played Football with Rangers for about 6 years but in total, my active football life was about 15 years. Rangers brought the East Central State of the Igbos out of their War problems. Rangers came out from the war and started conquering other strong clubs immediately. Rangers brought the Igbos to the limelight.
My experience in Rangers was great. Rangers is a large family of good footballers and we had men of integrity in Rangers. I played Challenge Cup, local leagues, novelty matches while I was in Rangers FC. We travelled for friendly matches outside Nigeria and we covered almost all the Africa countries. We went to Zambia, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Libya, Algeria and represented Nigeria in All Africa Matches. Rangers as an indomitable site was winning the league almost every year and this made us to travel every year to various Africa countries.
Throughout my time in Rangers, we were always traveling and representing Nigeria in All Africa Matches. Football took us all around and we were always there in the Challenge Cup. We won the Challenge Cup in 1974, 1975, 1976, and in 1977, we took the Africa Cup.
Apart from my football experiences, I joined the Nigerian Referee Association in 1984 and I got my Grade one in 1992. When I noticed I wasn’t too active any longer, I decided to back out from active refereeing and then I was made a Match Commissioner in 1994 till date. My refereeing experience took me round the nation. As a Grade 1 referee, I travelled often for national leagues. Refereeing took me to all the States in Nigeria. It was almost the year I expected my FIFA Badge that I retired from refereeing. I was nicknamed ‘professional’ because of the way I carried myself and I was recently awarded by the Nigerian Referee Society, Anambra State recently.
In 1981, I had already started working at the Account’s department in the Anambra State Ministry. This was the period I examined my life and decided to go to school to have a brighter future. So I gained admission to Oko Polytechnic in 1990 to study Accounting and I bagged my NCE in Accountancy. After my NCE, I did my PGD in Accountancy at Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.