Columns

April 21, 2024

Hoping for a new Rashidi Yekini, by Patrick Omorodion

Hoping for a new Rashidi Yekini, by Patrick Omorodion

Patrick Omorodion,

In elementary economics we were thought the essence of division of labour in the chain of production. That is the separation of a work process into a number of tasks, with each task handled by a separate person or group of persons. But I learnt of another means of collaboration through my cousin and renowned sportscaster, Dr. Larry Izamoje who explained it in his usual Wafi (another word for the oil city of Warri) parlance.

According to him, it is the philosophy of “carry me, carry me na him rice take dey full pot”. No single grain of rice can ever fill a pot while cooking it, but each grain carries the other and before you know it, the pot is full. It shows that everybody is important and must be encouraged and not despised. I believe this was the thought of Hyde Energy, a firm reputed for products that sustain automobile engines in floating a football competition for mechanics.

They know that automobile mechanics are very useful in keeping vehicles in good shape and therefore enhance economic activities. Yes mechanics use their products to service vehicles and therefore are very good vehicles to help promote these products before vehicle owners. If they were selfish, they could just ensure that they promote their products through adverts in the Media for vehicle owners to see but they chose to collaborate with the mechanics through a football competition which will also keep them healthy to be able to do their work, caring for customers’ vehicles.

And so the Mechanics Champions League, tagged Hyde Cup was born last week. While unveiling the laudable programme in Lagos, the Chief Executive of Hyde Energy, Mr. Dimeji Edwards said the Hyde Cup is “not just a football competition but “celebrating our partners, the mechanics, (and in the process) help them showcase their talent”. Lagos state government was not left out in the new initiative. It was represented by its commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Alhaji Mobolaji Ogunlende who commended the firm for the initiative which will go a long way in not only helping the state keep its citizens fit but also make the society a better place.

The competition which actually begins today in Lagos with 16 teams drawn into four groups of four teams each will last for seven weeks made up of six match days. That is every Sunday from today, according to Mr. Ayobami Olowolayemo, Head, Lubes, Hyde Energy. The first four Sundays is for the group matches from which the top two teams will qualify for the quarter finals. The knockout rounds commence on May 19, 2024 while the climax of the competition will be on May 26, 2024 when the two finalists will contest for the Hyde Cup.

Prizes reeled out by Mr. Olowolayemo are N2m for the winner, N1.3m for the first runner-up and N700,000 for the second runner-up. The Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the competition alongside the Golden Boot winner (top scorer) and the safest hands (best goalkeeper) will each get N250,000. Wait for it. These prizes are not in cash but the equivalent in products of Hyde Energy. Chairman of NATA, the mechanics body, Comrade Moruf Egberongbe commended the energy company for the initiative and spiced his speech with their slogan which caused hilarious laughter among the audience.

The slogan made sense to drive home the essence of collaboration which Dr. Izamoje’s Wafi gist of rice grains carrying each other while being boiled talked about. The slogan is ‘Up NATA, Progress. No NATA, no Movement and No Movement, Economy Paralyse’. It is a truism. You need vehicles to move goods and services around for a buoyant economy. For your vehicle to be in top shape for such duties, you need a mechanic to fix it when it is faulty. And just like the body needs blood to be alive for human’s daily activities, the vehicles need oil to work well.

So what the medical doctor is to the body is what the mechanic is to the vehicle. They know which oil is of top quality to make vehicles perform optimally. And there comes the need for the collaboration between NATA and Hyde Energy. Another angle most people didn’t think about was whispered into my ears by a colleague, Morakinyo Abodurin, the Sports Editor of The Nation newspaper that day. “Another Rashidi Yekini could just be discovered from this competition”, he said.

Of course yes. In our clime where Football Academies are not as sophisticated and developed like you have in the western world where talents are discovered at ages of below 10 and nurtured to become stars, talented kids here mostly rely on competitions like the Hyde Cup to showcase their talent. And why did Morakinyo remember Yekini and linked him to the Mechanics Champions League? Of course Yekini was never discovered from a school and taken to a Football Academy but started off as a welder in Kaduna where he was born.

It was his love for football that lured him into sneaking out of his welding workshop to playing street football from where he was scouted. His football career started from there and blossomed. There are many talents hidden all over the country but who don’t have the privilege to participate in grassroot competitions. So this Mechanics Champions League could just throw up another Rashidi Yekini who may just blossom and become a big player of one of the Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL teams. Who knows, from there he could become one of the future pillars of the senior national team, the Super Eagles.