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EXCLUSIVE: ‘Reasons I Brought FC Bayern Youth Cup Nigeria To Awka’ –Dr. Emeka Okeke

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Reasons I Brought FC Bayern Youth Cup Nigeria To Awka’  –Dr. Emeka Okeke

The revamping of football in Anambra State is ongoing. It was a move that started when the erstwhile State FA’s Caretaker Committee introduced far-reaching innovations last year. There have been coaching clinics, Super Eight competition amongst other developmental strides.

In this interview, the man who acted as the Anambra Football Association Caretaker Committee chairperson and brought on board the ‘My Anambra Football’ philosophy, Dr Emeka Okeke, who brought the FC Bayern Youth Cup Nigeria to Awka spoke to on what motivated his recent brain waves and actions towards football development in the State.
Interview by CHIGOZIE CHUKWULETA, in Awka.

What were the motives behind bringing the FC Bayern Youth Cup Nigeria 2022 to Awka?

It is time. About two years ago, as you know, ‘My Anambra Football’ project started while I was the Caretaker Committee chairman of Anambra Football Association – it’s been going on over the last two years while supporting our local clubs in talent discovery and other things.

Also Read: 10 Nigerian Youngsters Selected For Germany Trip, To Feature In FC Bayern Youth Cup Tourney


Dr. Okeke (right) and Anambra State Sports Commision chairman, Chief Tony Oli,during the FC Bayern Youth Cup Nigeria 2022 at the Awka City Stadium

I want to reiterate here that the only reason I accepted the job was to help break whatever chain that was holding down our grassroots football, our local clubs, local infrastructure and other development programs as well as promoting our own brand of football which gave rise to ‘My Anambra Football’ project.

You know l have been supporting football for some years. This Youth Cup, we (Aspire Foundation) supported the program in Lagos. Last year they were in Abuja. And this year we said the time is ripe to bring it to Anambra State. The time is ripe to bring it to the south East. Here in Anambra, we have the infrastructure. We have our airport, we have our facilities, we have our hotels and more importantly we have the talents. We have the fans and we have people who are willing to invest when time comes. So, now is the time.

We want to also hope because I was part of the transition committee for Anambra State, l worked on the human capital development sub-committee which sports and youth development fall under. We discussed a lot of ideas about development and I am happy to have been a part of that transition committee. And l am happy to have been part of Aspire Foundation who within the 100 days made something that is in that report possible for ndi Anambra. We hope that other people in the state would look at other sectors. They don’t have to wait for, Prof Charles Soludo, they don’t have to wait for any elected official. Just do whatever you can that works for all of us. From football to education, to healthcare, to commerce, Anambra will be great.

Having seen how the FC Bayern Youth Cup Nigeria 2022 fared, are you fulfilled?

It was wonderful. As you know it is not an inexpensive endeavor. But l must say for every youth that showed up, played, was very happy. The look on their faces, the excitement and the enthusiasm, every expense was well worth it. The officials, the supporters, the teams that came from all over Nigera – we had ten teams in total. About a hundred boys played.

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I would say we have given opportunities and l think whatever that opportunities are, we would continue to give them more. So if I was not excited and satisfied l would not not pledge to continue to support them – grassroots football and our youths.

As the brain behind the talent hunt event hosted in Anambra State, are you satisfied that a few players of South-East descent were picked?

You asked a question that has to do with tribe, and let me state unequivocally. For Nigerian sports to thrive, we have to take away tribe, we have to take away family, we have to take away friends. Why do l say this? If you spend your money and take somebody who is not qualified to Germany to represent Nigeria in October, one, you have wasted your money because nobody will see him. And then two, you’ve robbed somebody who is more qualified, more skilled and more talented of the opportunity to go out there and be a solid ambassador for himself, for his family and Nigeria at large.

Dr. Okeke with FC Bayern scouts, Christopher Loch and Hans Pflugler

Since the inception of ‘My Anambra Football’ project, you have rolled out a lot of programs like coaching clinics, Super Eight tourney and this FC Bayern Youth Cup Nigeria which all about football development in the State. What is the drive and what else are we expecting?

As for the drive, l can say it is the simple passion -the commitment to see our people grow, to see our people thrive. And l must say there is also an unseen force which l am yet to understand. Because, at any point where l feel l am about to give up, anytime when l feel l am not getting enough support from the government, or from other individuals or from the private sector and l say, you know what? – it’s time to go and focus on my own private businesses, my own family, somehow. l believe God gives me a reason to continue. And it is only at that point, there is a reaffirmation that this is my purpose in life – to lift people and l have not even scratched the surface.

So the drive is knowing my purpose and continuing even when I get tired. It’s God finding ways to show me that he would continue to give me the strength because I haven’t even started.

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