By Jacob Ajom
There are still people who want to make a difference in the way things are done. They dream big. They are not your everyday people.
They are among those who want to leave a mark on not just the environment they live in but on the lives of those they come in contact with. They seek better lives for the majority and do so with ease and conviction. In living their lives, they leave indelible marks and impressions that time and space cannot wipe away.
Head coach of Goodland Rangers Football Club of Lagos, Ajuma Ameh Otache, is one of those with the conviction of a dreamer. A former Super Falcons player. “After my playing career I went through the NIS where I got my diploma in 2010. I have been opportune to be trained outside this country. I have been to South Africa, the US and Germany. I have also been involved in FIFA coaching projects.
I have the UEFA license and recently I just bagged a CAF B License.” Ordinarily, having played in the national women team, she would have been inclined towards handling a women’s football team. However, coach Otache refused to be influenced by her past and sexual biases. She opted for a male football club. She founded Goodland Rangers Football Club of Lagos.
She said the club was founded in November 2014. “In 2015 we got promoted as Eko League champions and we went ahead to represent Lagos State in the national Division 3 play-offs. In 2016 we gained promotion to nationwide division 2 which we won. This year we gained promotion to national league division 1.”
They are now to compete in division 1. Otache said the target is to see the team compete in the Nigeria Professional Football League in the next two seasons. “Our target is the NPFL, and we are two steps closer to it.”
Otache disclosed that membership of the club is not restricted to any particular part of Nigeria. “Some players are from outside Lagos. Our recruitment is open, wherever we see a talent we bring them in it doesn’t matter where you are from.”
But how is it possible for a female coach to handle male players?
“I don’t see any difference between men and women football. It is the same thing. A coach should have a vision and the players will key into that vision. Not minding the sex.”
Any pressure from your players who are male on you, being a female coach running the rule?
“There is no pressure at all. It is this; if you have a vision, it is like a picture you visualise with different colours for the various parts of the whole you want to attain. If you have a vision, you pursue it you can attain it.
“Male players are the same. Football is the same. It has to do with the passion driving me.”
Otache says it is easier to handle boys than girls.
“Coaching boys make things easier for me because they can easily adapt to the instructions given them. They all know where we are going to and everybody keys into the bigger picture we are driving at.”
She however confessed to the issue of acceptability. “The initial pressure I had was when the male players would not accept a female coach taking them. But if you have something to put on the table, people will definitely respond. They saw that my approach was purely professional and I did what I was supposed to do and with time, they all got to adjust and opened up to run with the vision we had with the team
Surprisingly, Otache’s assistant is a woman too. She is Uguochukwu Atube. Ajumeh disclosed that she did not know how that came about. “We both share the same ambition and we work in the same organisation, which is a charity organisation. We are mandated to go about and train coaches together so it was naturally easy for us to adapt and do what we had to do to get along. We train the players together
As a football club owned and run by a woman, Goodland Rangers are not always comfortable financially. “We manage,” Otache said resignedly. “Goodland Rangers is the brainchild of Global Impact Church but it is not 100 per cent owned by the church. We are open to do business with anybody. We also have individuals sponsoring and some companies also trying to see how they can support the club.
“At Goodland Rangers we are open for business and anybody can come in as long as one has the money, resources and other requirements and share the dream of the club.”