Our Dream is to Give Children a Better Opportunity and a Chance for Survival – Onejeme (Part 2)

Cotinued from the last edition

By Uche Enem

What are your fulfilling moments so far in your sports life?
All my life has been sports. I love games a lot because it is something that makes me comfortable and happy. I am so happy traveling out of the country and fulfilling my dreams of becoming what I have dreamt to become because it is quite difficult to achieve great dreams here in Nigeria because of poor management and poor economy. I am over whelmed that I have reached this far because I didn’t know I will reach this level of achievement. I have hope in everything I have done and I believe in myself. My main focus is to establish an international academy with international standards. I am working really and I pray to reach the top.

What are your challenging moments so far?
Well, everything is normally about finance but that is not the problem now. This time around, the cash is not the problem because we want to operate on a low scale. I believe football is a business and when you invest in it, all can turn out good. I don’t want to focus on finished products rather, I want to start from the scrash to raise young people between 6-8 years. By this, they will be able to gain quick development and reach their highest point of potentials. This is the plan and I hope it works well.

How do you address the challenge of trust from parents releasing their wards to your academy?
This is exactly the challenge I had as a child when my mum took me off from JSS1 to St. Mary’s High School, Ifitedunu and gave the seniors instructions that they shouldn’t allow me to play football around the school’s premises. My mum didn’t understand the value of sports and it was a challenge to me too. The world is changing and now people are beginning to realize the value of football and how it has helped so many people and nations become great. Football is no longer like football of our fore fathers’ days when the value of football was not really placed in the right order. Most parents don’t have chance for their wards neither do they see the importance of placing value to their children’s dreams and passion.

As I have earlier said, my football academy will be in small scale and parents must be involved 100 percent in whatever we have for their children. Without parents being involved, we will not be able to work with the child no matter how good the child is on the field. We have the plan to talk and organize parents’ talks and meeting, where we can exchange ideas and views about the welfare of their ward. We will also discuss our aims and objectives with them, so that they will be able to understand what is involved in bringing their children to the academy.

It is not all about being a player or playing football rather our priority is for the child to be able to have good education. In our academy, if a child doesn’t produce good result every term, then we know the game is affecting the child’s academic life. Once we find out that the child is not excelling academically, we will talk to the parent to know the fault and if the fault can’t be corrected, we will expel the child from the football academy. We want to make the parents realize their sole duty to their child and help their child grow.

It’s not every child that trains under us that will eventually become an international soccer player. If they are selected or get wonderful opportunities, they could be selected to receive scholarships to study whatever thing they want to do in life. Our dream is to give children a better opportunity and a chance for survival. I would have been a better person if my parents supported me in football entirely.

So what’s your position in the family?
We are five in number. Four boys and a girl. I am the 4th child and I am the only one into sports

Now that you have experienced Nigerian Sports and American Sports, do you think there are ways we could borrow a leaf from each other?
Nigeria soccer and the America soccer are different. Nigeria grass root sports involve street games which help our kids a lot in building strength and energy in football. The USA has a lot of games like Basket ball, Baseball and America Football. Their street game is mainly Basketball. Their soccer is always very organized because they have leagues at different level and also leagues that involve younger people even at the age of 4-6 years old. But here in Nigeria, the only league we have started is from U-13 which is not always played often unless there is a politician or a wealthy man who decides to sponsor the league for a particular purpose. This is a big challenge in Nigeria. These are part of the reasons why I decided to start from U-6, U-7, and not U-13. From there, they will grow older, stronger and more experienced. Nigeria Football is good because we have the strength but lack skills and proper training.

Most of our grass root coaches don’t have license neither do they have a coaching training and certificate. They use their natural knowledge and wisdom to teach the children. Remember, ‘You cannot give what you don’t have’. In America, all the coaches and even the parents who voluntarily assist in coaching, have smaller licenses to coach and even subject themselves for other training and coaching courses so that they can have positive impacts on the children.

Another thing is that in Nigeria we don’t have good fields. Our play ground is filled with sand, water and even harmful substances. We have more of synthetic grasses in USA which doesn’t affect training even when there is rainfall. That’s a big difference. Also, the composition of the Football Association (FA) officials is poor. They are most times interested in the money that will come to their pocket and not money that will be used for development. This is a big problem. America is different and they believe in development but here is Nigeria our grass root sports is very poor. People lie about their age during screening and that’s not development. With this attitude and mentality, we are heading nowhere.The only thing vital and impressive about Nigeria football is strength. The coaches easily work with you because they believe strength is very important in football.

My time as goal keeper @ Enugu Planner FC in 1999. Tochukwu is the goal keeper 3rd left squatting.
Tochukwu Onejeme giving his speech about how to become good citizens by making use of time through sports
2012 West Africa University Games @ Ilorin. Tochukwu represents Nnamdi Azikiwe University with three bronze medals in Shot Put, Discus & Javelin
Winner of 2015 U-15 Smart SparrowZ football tournament trophy and cash prize
Net Flex Basketball Youth, Bronx, New York
2015 Awka village league final between Umuokpu and Umudioka