It was an evening of glamour as icons of the Nigerian sports industry, ex-internationals, sports journalists, football administrators and stakeholders converged at the Eko Signature Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, to witness the historic visit of English Premiership side, West Ham United to Nigeria, for a meeting with the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF and top Nigerian Professional Football League side, FC Ifeanyi Ubah.
The meeting which gave life to the partnership deal between the Hammers and FC Ifeanyi Ubah, also had a technical discussion session, and interactive session with journalists bordering on the essence of the partnership deal, as well as charting a way forward to developing young football super stars in Nigeria.
Eminent sports icons, administrators and ex-internationals who graced the event were the Chairman Senate on Sports, Sen. Obinna Ogba; President, FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah; Managing Director, West Ham United, Mr. Angus Kinnear; President NFF, Amaju Pinnick; Chairman, League Management Company, LMC, Malam Shehu Dikko; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sports, representing the Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung.
Others were Chairman, FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Mr. Chukwuma Ubah; Technical Director of FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Coach Mitko Dobrev; Head Coach of FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Coach Everton; ex-internationals Henry Nwosu, Julius Aghahowa, Peter Rufai, Victor Ikpeba, Pastor Taribo West and Victor Aghali, among others.
Also in attendance were President-General Nigerian Football Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo; former Super Eagles Head Coach, Ambassador Fani Amun; Super Eagles Midfielder, John Ogu; Chinedu Harryson, Guiness Book of Record Holder for holding a ball on his head from Redeemed Camp to National Stadium among others.
Speaking at the event, the Proprietor, FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah said he has taken a good step by building a formidable team, FC Ifeanyi Ubah.
According to him, the team just joined the NPFL in the 2014/2015 season ended 11th and this season ended 4th.
“This is a laudable feat. We are bringing a lot of professionalism to the team. As you all know we have Brazilian and Bulgarian coaches, with foreign players from Brazil, Niger, Congo, Ghana among other foreign countries,” Ubah said.
He disclosed that as Chairman of the Anambra State Football Aasociation, “Our vision is to get kids involved in football. Nigeria is a nation of over 180million people. Nothing should stop us from producing the future Chiristiano Ronaldo’s and Lionel Messi’s of these world.”
He reiterated the huge investment that sports, particularly football offers, saying it’s so huge even than the allocation of all the tiers of government.
Ubah, however, revealed that “We have over 18 areas why we are partnering with West Ham United. Ranging from scouting, merchandising, going to England to play friendly matches among others,” adding that “with this partnership with West Ham United, we are going to be producing over 50,000 footballers in Anambra soonest.”
The Chairman, FC Ifeanyi Ubah, Chukwuma Ubah, on his part, said it was the intention of FC Ifeanyi Ubah to get a continental ticket, but said the team ended 4th in the just ended 2015/2016 season of the Nigerian Professional Football League, NPFL, saying the team is appreciative of the support it’s getting from Nigerians.
According to him, FC Ifeanyi Ubah, which is billed to play the finales of the Federations Cup, with winner between Enyimba and Nassarawa United, will buckle up next season to win the league, as well as pick a continental ticket.
Speaking at the event, the Managing Director, West Ham United, Mr. Angus Kinnear, thanked Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah for his confidence reposed in West Ham and for inviting him to Nigeria.
He said “the fantastic achievements of FC Ifeanyi Ubah within two years shows that the driver, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah is a man of vision. In the next two to 10 years, we want to look back and see that we have created a lot of value in the Nigerian football industry.”