By KATE OBODO
I came from a humble background, my father was a police officer and a member of the police football team in the early 50s. He began his police career in Lagos before he was later transferred to the then eastern region in 1960 where he worked all through until the outbreak of the civil war and retired in 1970, immediately after the war ended.
Though I was born and brought up in Lagos State, my parents hailed from Ogidi, in Anambra State. I attended my Primary and Secondary schools in Lagos. Later, I proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University, where I studied Physical Education.
In 1981, I got enlisted in the Nigerian army and served in various capacities while in service. Before retiring in 2009, I put in 19 years, most of which I spent in the northern part of the country. I retired as the Commandant of the Nigerian Army Sports Camp, Lagos.
While growing up, I was a bit rascally because I was fond of playing football. Then, my father was the station officer in Adekunle Police station, Lagos. As a child, I would go to the Evans Square with my pals to play football. Most times I did not go unpunished as my father would either flog me or detain me in the police cell.
Surprisingly, when I entered Secondary School, my father purchased my first UK made boot called ‘Gola.’ And each time, I wore the boot to the school, all my classmates would want to borrow it from me.
Really, it was fun and my father’s gesture encouraged my interest in football. My father did everything to see that I excelled in the game. Unfortunately, I didn’t go far in football.
Romance with football
Like I said earlier, my late father inspired my interest in football. He was a fantastic footballer. In fact, it was as a result of his talent in football that he was recruited into the Police Force. While he was playing for government school in Awka in those days, the colonial police spotted him and brought him to Lagos where he played for the Police machine team.
I remember vividly as he used to talk about Manchester United.During my Secondary School days, I played with footballers like Tunde Martins, and other great names from St. Finbarr’s College. I got more involved in football while I was in the university. I happened to be among the team that played the final match of the Africa University Games.
Also my dad’s position in the Police Force gave me an edge over my peers. Then I was leading the football supporters group each time the Police Machine team was playing at the Onikan stadium. I would mobilise my pals in all the barracks to support the team. My growing up was eventful and my life was centered around football and sports irrespective of the fact that I was a military officer.
My Kind of dress
I like wearing suits to social functions. Sometimes, I go for corporate wears like long sleeve shirts, ties and good trousers. At cultural events, you could see me in native attires. My mood also dictates what I wear. If I want to attend a party, I go for simple and comfortable outfits like jeans and T-shirt.
Actually, I dress to look nice and perhaps, not to impress anybody
Me and Women
I have always loved women right from my Secondary School and University days because of my interest in football. Then in the University, campus girls would always want to mingle with me because of my comportment and performance in the game.
While I was in service, I had male and female students who admired me so much because of the way I dressed. In the military, if you don’t dress appropriately, you can’t attract attention. For me, dressing very well was one of my hobbies.
Meeting my Wife
Contrary to what people think about military men, I believe they are the most loved people in the whole world. Some women may not like soldiers and I don’t know what is the cause but I know that most women love to be in the company of military officers.
When I met my wife, it was nothing much of a stress. She liked me because of the way I dressed as a soldier and when I made advances to her, she quickly accepted me. Our marriage has produced two girls and three boys. Most of them have graduated from different Universities in the country. My third child is following my footsteps because he is now in the Army.
Smoking and drinking
While in the military, I was a heavy smoker but I dumped the habit 10 years ago. Actually, I stopped smoking while I was playing Golf at the Ikoyi Club. Sometimes, when we tee-off from hole one before we get to hole 18, I would have finished a packet of cigarette.
It was as a result of the tension involved in the game especially when money was involved. I continued my smoking habit until one day after the game, I coughed and some black substances came out of my system. I looked at it and felt that I could be suffering from cancer. That was how I stopped smoking.
I relax more by playing golf. It is a game of life and can be played even at one’s old age. I played tennis and football but I came to realise that at a stage in one’s life, the urge of playing both games won’t be there anymore.
To stay active in sports, I chose the game of golf. Right now, I play off 17 handicaps as an amateur golfer at the Ikoyi Club 1938 where I became a member since 1992.
For me, by playing golf I have learned to be humble. I can associate with anybody but most times I associate with people that are older than me. Golf is a game where you see different attitudes and if you are not a humble person, you won’t be able to play the game. In golf, you find very erratic people and your ability to cope with them shows the man in you.
My best meal/fruit
My best food is rice and beans with plantain. My best fruit is banana and groundnuts. I like banana because of the Iron it contains which is good for the bone.