By Dan Ikpechukwu (Atlanta)
Former Green Eagles captain Chief Segun Odegbami has charged his fellow ex-internationals based in the United States of America, to invest their talents and skills in their various professions in developing the sports industry in Nigeria. Chief Odegbami nicknamed mathematical during his active days in the Nigerian national team and club, galvanized the ex-footballers by stating that, “we all need to bequeath a formidable sports industry and an enviable society for the future generations of Nigerians and the time to shift from the status quo of pitiable sports and overall social environment in Nigeria is now.”
The one time chairman of National Institute of Sports (NIS) went further to encourage other Nigerians present during the occasion to always adopt a true sense of patriotism in the affairs of Nigeria, their home country and USA their adopted home country.
“It was my love for sports and the development of the Nigerian child, that inspired me to institute an academy in Nigeria to explore the sporting potentials of young Nigerians while imbibing in them the virtues of good education and today the International Sports Academy stands out as the first of its kind in the continent of Africa,” Odegbami a member of the victorious 1980 African Cup of Nations enthused.
Also speaking during the inauguration, the deputy consul general of the Nigerian consulate in Atlanta, Mr. Anderson Madubike, praised the ex-internationals for their foresight in forming an association to honour and cherish their contributions to nation building in the area of sports. Mr. Madubike who represented the consul general of Nigeria in Atlanta, Mr. Kayode Laro, expressed the hope that Nigeria and Nigerians will always hold the ex-footballers to a high esteem as worthy ambassadors of Nigeria. “I have no doubt that you all command an appreciable level of respect amongst Nigerians for representing us well during various engagements and for that reason, we owe you our gratitude,” Madubike stated.
The president of the Nigerian Ex-International Footballers Association, Mr. Francis Moniedafe, declared that the mission of the association is to ensure that ex-footballers remain their brother’s keepers just as it was during their active days as footballers. Moniedafe went further to say, “our vision in forming this association is to foster love and unity amongst members and to use our resources in uplifting our members worldwide, but most importantly to use our individual and collective skills as we did during our playing days winning laurels for Nigeria, to continue building the sports industry in Nigeria.”
Some members of the Nigerian ex-international footballers association include; Femi Olukanni, Nathaniel Ogedegbe, Ike Ofoje, Paul Okoku, Segun Adeleke, Humprey Edobor, Hamilton Green, Tony Igwe, Donald Igwebuike, Emeka James, Charles Kanu, Mike Nsuk, Godwin Odiye and Charles Okoye. Others are; Totty O. Totty, Chigozie Offor, Damian Ogutsuyi, Francis Okaroh, Godwin Okoloba, Segun Olukanni, Eddie Oyakhilome, Matthew Onyema and Thompson Thom-Manuel.
The highlight of the occasion was the induction of Chief Segun Odegbami as the life-member of the association. Odegbami expressed immense appreciation to the gesture and promised to always contribute his quota to the success of the association in realizing the goals set out to achieve by members.