Opinion

Our Dream is to Give Children a Better Opportunity and a Chance for Survival – Onejeme

Meet Young Grass Root Football Developer, TOCHUKWU CLEMENT ONEJEME.

Tochukwu hails from Umuokpu, Awka, Anambra State and was born on 3rd May, 1983. He attended Unity Primary School at St. John’s Catholic Church, Umuokpu between 1991- 1995. From 1996, he went to Boy’s High School, Amawbia. And completed his Secondary School at St. Mary’s High School, Ifitedunu from 1997- 2001.

I hope you enjoy this session with Tochukwu in this edition.

Can you share with DOSAD Chronicles, how your sports life began?
As a small boy, I played football on the streets during my primary school. I participated in many school competitions organized by other schools during my primary school days. So I developed strength from playing football. When I was about entering secondary school at Boys High School, Amawbia, my parents were a little bit disturbed about my football dreams and a lot of communities wanted me to play for them and this disturbed my mum a lot because she believed that I won’t do well if I combined both football and education together. When I was about entering JSS2, she changed my school to St. Mary’s Ifitedunu and told the school management not to allow me to play football.

The football spirit was still there and being an Altar boys server in the church, I was opportune to meet Fr. Obinna Dike who came for his six weeks apostolate work in my parish in St. Johns Catholic Church, Umuokpu, Awka after his ordination. So I lived with him and he taught me so many things since he was also a National Referee and I wanted to become one.
When we went to his first parish where he was assisting in St. Patrick’s Aguluzigbo, I helped the parish a lot in organizing a lot of trainings in the community and youth games. We won so many competitions and carried cups home. Also, Fr Obinna took me to so many places he officiated and I learnt a lot of things from him.

I continued training and learning till I entered Nnamdi Azikwe University and I was fortunate to become the Director for Sports of the Student Union Government (SUG). We participated in NUGA games and some other competitions. My tenure as the Director of Sports was really great. I can remember I picked four international medals from the NUGA Games when I represented the school in Shotput and Discus. In 2010, I went for the West African University Games (WAUG) and I picked a Bronze medal in Akure and the second WAUG at Ilorin in 2012, I also picked three medals in Shot put and Javelin. My love for sports and Shot put made me to start championing Anambra State in Shot Put. So when I served in Delta State for my NYSC, the Delta State Government was more supportive than the government of Anambra.

So I represented Delta State at the National Sports Festival and I picked Gold Medal, Silver and Bronze in Shot put and Discus. I raised a Soccer team after I left Aguluzigbo in 2002 called Smart Sparrows Youth Team Academy at Umuokpu, Awka. I was the Team Manager and the Coach. We played a lot of competition and the team was doing well till I left for Youth Service and that was the end of the academy.

I went to United States of America (USA) for training tour in 2016 in preparation for the 2016 National Sports festival which never took place even though I heard the competition may be held by November, 2018. Presently, I am coaching in USA and taking other professional courses in USA to equip myself to a higher level. I came back to Nigeria get my football academy officially open. The academy will operate on a low scale that will groom children between the ages of 6-9years. This will help us to train them at an early stage. We don’t want people from 13 years and above so that they won’t get older faster. This has been a problem in the country and this is why our children don’t get enough training even when they start playing professional games.

Presently, we are still scouting for available lands where we can be able to get 2-3 fields for training. Right now, we are trying to get the academy in different zones of Anambra State such as Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia and Awka. This is how far we have gone in actualizing the project. I am a thrower and it was because of the love I have for soccer that made me to go into soccer coaching in US. I have gotten my three licenses E, F & D licenses and I am still working harder for the Pro license which is the highest level of soccer license.

Trials for U-10, U-13 & U-15 at 2018 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Omaha
First U-15 Football Tournament in 2015. Tochukwu presents certificate of award to the best player and highest goal scorer of the tournament
First U-15 Football Tournament in 2015. Tochukwu presents certificate of award to the best coach from Umuawulu community
First U-15 Football Tournament in 2015. Tochukwu presents certificate of award to the best goal keeper of the tournament
First U-15 Football Tournament in 2015. Tochukwu presents certificate of award to the Most valuable player of the tournament
Winner of 2015 U-15 SmartSparrowZ football tournament trophy and cash prize

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