Cont’d from last edition
Last week, we had a brief profile of Paul Obiakor. In this edition, Paul Obiakor, shares his personal feelings, challenges and fulfilling moment of his life. He recalled how he made a fortune through savings. I hope you enjoy this piece.
How were you able to combine the three games (Football, Volley Ball, and Basket Ball) together?
The matches don’t come the same time. Even when they came together, I chose football first.
What are your fulfilling moments so far in sports?
They are so many of them. When I was in the National Team, I looked at Pele, Socrates, Garrincha and some others who I took as my idol. Their stories were really fulfilling. Garrincha is one of the most skilled players and his statue is in Maracana stadium. Till date, the Maracana Stadium has the largest capacity in the world with about 200,000 people. The entrance to the stadium is like a tunnel. Tickets are bought upfront and seats are reserved. When I travelled to Portugal in 1983, the environment and food was great and fulfilling. Also, meeting some of my successful classmates and friends like the Former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi and some successful men, gives me joy. Football has exposed me to so many great men who up till today hold me in high esteem. It has brought me closer to so many people like politicians, doctors etc. I also feel great whenever I help people especially when it involves exercise, aerobics, etc.
What’s your position in the family?
I am the second son. We are eight in the family (4 boys and 4 girls), although, two of my siblings are late now. Presently, we are two boys and four girls.
What are the moments you consider challenging during your sports life?
One of the major challenges I faced was in 1984 when my immediate younger brother died at Suleja, Abuja. My colleagues came to console me and to tell me about another crucial match that was coming nearer which I accepted. Three days to the match, they didn’t have a goal keeper as a result of many injuries they had in their previous matches. The match ended 1-1 and during the match, I saw my brother in the field. He tapped me on my shoulder and told me to move on with life. I cried on the field because it was so real. I cried till I got back to my hotel room. At that point, a lot of thoughts came to my mind. Till date, I can never forget what happened to me on that field at Onikan Stadium, Lagos against ACB Team in 1984. Life has been challenging for me since childhood because I lost my parents at early in life. My dad died as a result of motor accident while my mum died of Hepatitis immediately after the Civil War on 6th Novemebr, 1970.
Through savings, I was able to build a house. Whenever I was given money for hotel, I usually save the money and then sleep in the same bed with my players. This was how I saved enough money to build my house.
When did you start building your house?
I started in 2000 and finished in 2003.
What year did you get married?
I got married in1992. After my wedding, we had twins (2 girls) but they were born prematurely. As at that time, there was no incubator in Awka and in the process, I lost one of the twins. I took the other to Boromeo Hospital where she died which I believe was as a result of the carelessness of the hospital. During this period, it was really challenging because my wife had so many miscarriages until after 10 years when she was able to give birth successfully to twins (a boy and a girl). The period of 10 years was challenging because I received so many advice from friends to get another wife. She gave birth on 5th December, 2003 and by then I just moved into my completed house. I would say that it was the twins that brought good fortune for me.
What are your Football Challenges?
When I left NIS, I was given a letter to work with any team. So, when I went to Gabros but I wasn’t accepted and when I went to Jasper, I was told they had enough people working with them. As at that time, Gabros and Jasper were the two major clubs in Anambra .This killed my morale and so I decided to attach myself to other local clubs.
Also, the injuries I had during my active days in Football have been really challenging. I had so many injuries because of lack of medicaments. Most of us that played had knee and leg problems. The football management then was so mean because they didn’t take care of the players’ injuries. We were given Depo- Medrol. Depo- Medrol is mainly used for animals and not for human beings. The injection makes you feel no pain at your joints even with serious injury. It makes you strong like an iron; but immediately after the match, you will begin to receive deadly pains for the next one week. The people who gave you the injection will not care about the way you are feeling till they will need you for another match. The injection has some effect like postural disability.
Above all, we were not being recognized as people who brought fame and name to this country. After death, no one remembers you anymore even when some of us become ill, we are forgotten. For instance, Christian Madu played for Ghana and when he accepted to play for Nigerian, his father was sacked from Ghana. Christian Madu played for a while and got an injury and he was sent to be a Coach at a remote area in Ikwo, Ebonyi State. Ikwo people live in mud houses and they are mainly farmers and they do not leave their children to play football because of numerous farming activities. When they
relieved Christian from Ikwo, he was attached to Junior Rangers and later was sacked during Chimaroke’s democracy tenure. There are so many touching stories behind these. It wasn’t easy for him and for his wife who was taking care of him. Although, he got assistance from Benson Ejindu, who took care of most of his hospital bills. When Christian died, Gov Obiano gave 200,000 naira. It is only Anambra State that recognizes ex- Rangers. Other Eastern states do not. If not for Rangers, the Igbo man will find it difficult to integrate himself to Nigeria. The Rangers team brought back Igbos to the Nigeria stream through Football.
What’s your favourite colour?
What’s your favourite Food?
Eba and Egusi soup
To be Cont’d