By Monica Iheakam
In the game of football in Nigeria and Africa, there is one man who needs no introduction, an unrivalled administrator in the sphere of the beautiful round leather game. That man is Felix Anyansi Agwu, Enyimba’s long serving and most decorated football administrator in Nigeria.
Barely weeks after The Sun newspaper bestowed on him the prestigious Sun Sports Personality of the Year award, Sportsville today is rolling out the red carpets and drums to celebrate Anyansi Agwu yet again and deservedly so.
Under his leadership, no club in Nigeria have won more titles than Enyimba Football Club. Such has been Enyimba’s dominance that in 2007, world football governing body FIFA nominated the club the best ever Nigerian club.
With such admirable accomplishments, you would be forgiven to imagine that Anyansi Agwu’s drive and hunger for silverware would be diminished, but no, that is not the case for the man awarded Best Administrator of the Decade. His passion, tenacity and dedication is legendary and keeps on powering Enyimba to record-breaking heights, on and off the pitch.
In 2019, Enyimba emerged champions of Nigeria for the eight-time, eighteen years after the club’s first league title. It was testament to the club’s unwavering commitment to its mission; winning everything and becoming one of the most respected teams in Africa. Only this season, the club launched its streaming service through a revamped website that is fast becoming the most visited club website in the country. It is noteworthy that from 2013 and 2017, Enyimba was voted the Nigerian club with the best website and looks set to dominate the tech space again.
Some administrators are canny, scheming strategists. Others are motivators, eloquent and effective orators who urge their troops into battle, ready to give everything. Anyansi Agwu is the latter. At heart, a father and a leader of men who believe in him. A deeply intelligent man, he combines genial charisma plus an ability to remain calm under intense pressure. This has proven an invaluable asset as he steers the fortunes of Enyimba from provincial underdogs to Nigerian champions and then continental warlords.
Appointed by then Governor of Abia State, Senator Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu at the turn of the last century in 2000, history would forever be kind to Anyansi Agwu, having masterminded the golden moments of Nigeria’s most successful football club.
Enyimba for over two decades now has remained the nation’s leading club side. Under Gov T.A Orji, the Peoples’ Elephants dazzled and won laurels and the story has remained the same with the incumbent Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu who not only supports the club but has made the club’s fortress the Enyimba International Stadium one of the best in the continent.
Enyimba presently is Nigeria’s superpower, a club that in terms of pedigree and history is effectively the country’s leading club.
But there is clearly a cost to operating, as Enyimba does, at the highest levels of football. It means significant time away from the family and an adverse impact on health and Anyansi Agwu has experienced both, yet he continues to help the team ride out the bumps and focus on the ultimate prize. “Focus is everything,” he says. “Focus and purposefulness, regardless of the results.”
Two decades into the job and 28 trophies later, Anyansi Agwu’s focus and purposefulness has clearly paid off. His strength of will and character, stamped on the club, has produced a glistering list of honours including two CAF Champions League trophies, placing the club and him on par with Africa’s most accomplished, much admired and respected. It is little wonder then that till date Enyimba remains the only football club in Nigeria to have conquered Africa, not once but twice, bringing an end to Nigeria’s 39 year wait for the glorious silverware of Africa’s elite club competition.
His administrative and management expertise acquired over an accomplished career has seen him serve not only on the board of Enyimba but also in the executive committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). Within the NFF, he has served as Vice Chairman and Chairman of four committees, including the Technical Committee, Beach Soccer, Player Status and most recently Marketing. He led the delegation for the Super Eagles to AFCON 2013 where he played a key role in the country’s eventual success in the tournament.
Felix Anyansi Agwu was voted best football administrator in Africa by CAF in 2004 and 2005 and since then awards have poured in for Nigeria’s most accomplished football administrator. In honour of his immense contributions to football, Anyansi Agwu has been conferred two illustrious Abia State titles; the first being “Oke Oji” of Abia and most recently, “Enyi Abia”, the highest honour in all of Abia State. Both titles were awarded him by two separate Abia State governors.
He was also recognized by CAF for his exceptional leadership and value to African football when he was invited as the only Nigerian and one of seven Club Chairmen in Africa to meet with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino at CAF’s headquarters in Cairo, Egypt in September 2019.