Coaches from Anambra State and those working in Anambra, in a group photograph with some of the CAF \FIFA Resource persons L-R Rev Fr Coach Obinna Dike, Coach Ifeanyi of RTS Abuja, Patrick Ozor formerly of Giwa FC; Oguchie of Charles Ezeani Academy Neni; Bitrus Bewarang (NFF technical Director), Rabiu, James Peters, kashimawo Laloko,Onigbinde, Siji (Resource persons), Coach Ikechukwu of Pepsi Academy, Emeka Ugwu of DOSAD Academy and Ifeanyi, Abacha working in Somalia.
This shouldn't bore you my readers! We had discussed Fr. Obinna before on Sports profile but I decided to share another special angle of his profile with you. The special gist happened on Friday, May 26 at Abuja which marked another milestone for the Catholic Church in Nigeria, as her first priest to be a Professional Football Coach, also became the first to bag CAF C International License, at the National Stadium Abuja after an intensive 2-weeks course. His name is Rev Fr Coach Obinna Dike, the DOSAD Sports Director and a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Awka. We had earlier profiled him on this column. As he added another feather to his already richly populated cap, FIDES anchored him in this special profile edition.
Congrats Fr Coach. What really happened to you at Abuja?
Thank you for the compliment. Earlier in this column, I had told you that I graduated from the National Institute for Sports (NIS) Lagos with the Grade one football professional coaching certificate in 2014. Three years on, I was shortlisted on application to have qualified to secure this African Coaching Licence which starts from C. It is issued by Confederation of African Football (CAF). The intensive course that qualifies one for this international licence held at the Nigeria Football Federation Technical Centre at the Package B of the National Stadium Abuja, popularly called FIFA GOAL Project. We were about hundred that attended the course which held May 14 to 28, 2017.
Some of the best hands in Football across Africa were there as the resource persons and took us through the latest drills and innovations in football. The course was holistics- including the technical, tactical, conditioning, sports medicine, administration, refereeing, integrity and media.
At a personal level, I won an award as the third best in FIFA Laws of the Game in a test conducted on that. The Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr Mohammed Sanusi presented the award with the prize being the 2016/2017 FIFA Laws of the game to me, on May 26 during the closing ceremony. I was also made the coordinator of the project of founding youth teams (U13,U15,U17,U20) at the six zones of Nigeria through aggressive hunt for young football talents liaising with fellow C licensed coaches across the zones to do so.
A section of coaches at the CAF course
May we know some of the resource persons at the course?
We had experienced CAF/FIFA personnel like Coach Adegboye Onigbinde, Kashimawo Laloko, James Peters, Bitrus Bewarang, Abdul Rafiu Yusuf and Siji Lagunju on the technical and tactical aspects. Mr Ameenu, a FIFA/CAF Referee Instructor took us on the FIFA Laws of the game. The Chief Physiotherapist to the National teams, Mr Dayo handled the medical aspect, while Dr Robinson Okosun, the Chief Psychologist of the Nigerian National teams took us on the psychology of the game.
Mr Ademola Olajire, the National Team Media officer drilled the coaches on the relationship between the coach and the media, while Mr Bola Oyeyode taught match coordination and administration. The Secretary General of the NFF, Dr Mohammed Sanusi then took the coaches through the basic elements of club side management and administration. The course was really rich.
We had both theory and practical examinations. We were evaluated and only the successful coaches were decorated on May 26 by the CAF/NFF representatives. These are now CAF approved Licence C holders.
Were there other coaches from Anambra at the programme?
Yes, about seven of them. A good number are however working outside Anambra. I travelled however with Coach Emeka Ugwu, DOSAD Chief Coach and Coach Patrick Ozoh who was formerly with Giwa FC of Jos.
How do you move on from there?
I have already started implementing what we learnt. Right there at Abuja I held relevant meetings to advance the course of sports in Anambra and beyond. One of the resolutions at the course was on cheating in age football. To curb this, DOSAD is already strategizing to advance the quality of football at the basic and secondary schools levels.
Among colleagues taking instructions
Any programme for Anambra?
Definitely yes. Anambra is my primary constituency. Remember that the State Government appointed me the Chairman of the 2017 edition of the Traders Cup competition. I also double as the initiator and the chairman of the Anambra Independent Football League.
I believe the audiences were marveled at how we have created a veritable option to football and sports development through DOSAD Sports Initiatives and Anambra Independent Football League (AIFL). Without boasting, I spent days after days sharing our ideas about sports in private partnership with other states. It was a very busy period for me too and very fulfilling. I already have appointments with about three states to assist them in independent grassroots football programmes.
I also seized the opportunity at Abuja to meet a variety of Ndi Anambra, convincing them to come and support our efforts at AIFL to raise and shore up home grown talents. I believe this will yield fruits in no distant time.
On AIFL, what is the progress report?
Magnificent. The AIFL has taken the state by storm. We are already in week 10 of 18. All the 10 teams have comported themselves admirably well. Teams win as they play home or away. There has been no single record of violence in any of the venues ten weeks in. The referees have been outstanding as well as the match commissioners. Both the Anambra Football Association and the Referees Council have partnered us well by their moral support. The Commissiioner for Sports, Barr Uju Nwogu; the perm sec and directors of the sports ministry have all supported us. In fact some of the teams playing at government stadia play at no charge courtesy of the government. In return, we have given Anambra quality football every Friday.
Coaches in practical session
Who is sponsoring the league for you?
For now, we are still approaching some individuals and group for sponsorship, partnership and support. We are yet to tie any one group down as major sponsor as we want our interest well represented. Until now, we have been contributing to pay officials. We are getting there because we decided to let Ndi Anambra see our content before approaching them to sponsor us.
To be honest with you, some of our politicians are blind. When we approached them, their mode of thinking was just too backward and their vision blurred about youth development. I personally told one to go and seek better thing to do instead of wasting his money on governorship delusion.
Do you know that the AIFL has 324 players licensed in the first stanza alone? We are in mid season now and many clubs are recruiting. I am happy that some contenders have seen the value worth. Inasmuch as we are open to bid for sponsorship, we don't want to be mortgaged. We shall announce our major sponsor soon.
What do sponsors get in return?
A very good question Uche. We have 3 levels: Sponsors, Partners and Supporters. A major sponsor must have invested up to N10 Million in the league. For such category, in addition to his advert panels doming the 10 venues throughout the league, the sponsor's name is encrypted in the name of the league and cup as well. The teams' home jerseys bear the sponsor's name and logo.
For partners, the ceiling is N5M. The teams' away jerseys bear name and logo. Of course there are advert panels for them too.
For supporters, any amount is accepted and value service given accordingly.
Thank you Fr. for this wonderful interview.