From Yakubu Obande
The member representing Agatu constituency at the Benue State House of Assembly who also doubles as the Deputy Majority Leader of the House, Goodwin Abu Edoh is not a new person in politics as far as Benue State is concerned.
He was able to put smiles on many faces when he was the caretaker chairman of Agatu Local Government and later contested for the seat of the State House of Assembly, which he won under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
In this interview, he shares his concern for grassroots football development in Agatu.
Why is your interest in football?
I’ve been a football lover from my primary and secondary school days. I never played top flight football but have supported clubs that played good football. And I carried this to the university. I picked interest in grassroots football development after my good friend and brother, Patrick Adah sold a proposal to me that there’s need for me to touch lives in the areas using football and other sports. After considering the document submitted by the consultant, we decided to start with football due to its global appeal.
How did you start your grassroots football project?
Ex-international, Moses Kpakor who happened to play for BCC Lions of Gboko and the Super Eagles of Nigeria has been the driving force of the football project. We had clubs from the 12 wards in Agatu and 216 players participated and Kpakor picked 62 players based on merit without any interference from anyone.
Kpakor later told me that he would prefer taking the selected 62 players to Makurdi, the State capital if all logistics are put in place. After playing friendly games in Makurdi, he reduced the number to 25 players that formed the Hon Godwin Abu Edoh Football Academy Obagaji, Agatu.
What’s the composition of the players that make up the team?
Majority of the players are farmers with football talents and are from my area. I am happy seeing talented youthful players coming to Makurdi playing games and winning all.
So, what’s your target?
The first target is empowering the youths through football and turning Agatu Local Government Area to the football hub in Nigeria. Already we are on the process of partnerships with foreign agents from Africa, Europe and Asia. Most of them had accepted working with us as business partners.
Do you intend having a stadium someday in Agatu?
That is a project that would be a standard edifice that would withstand the test of time. One that many generations shall benefit from. In running a standard Football Academy having your private stadium is one of the key components. We have to start gradually and see how it goes.
Are there other sponsors for the academy apart from you?
For now, am the only one footing the bills, maybe in the nearest future potential sponsors can come in. In future we may have companies coming to take charge of branding of our kits and other sources of income for the academy.
Economically, how do you see venturing into football?
Football is another way of taking the talented youthful players off the streets. With our immediate plans, if things goes as planned and all structures are put in place, most of the players would be given good opportunities to travel abroad for trials and if they are successful for sure they must invests at home and it would boost economic activities of the area. And it would also create room for future developments.
What are your projections for your football academy?
My main target is to give many players the opportunity to showcase their football talents abroad by God’s grace. Already we have the connections and contacts.
Which major football competitions will you play this year?
Basically I would want us to play in the Benue State Football Association Cup which is called Challenge Cup and other well-organised football tournaments like some scouting programmes coming up in some parts of the country. Competitions are meant to spot the best players.
Apart from football, do you have interest in developing other sports?
We need to start from a low pace. Although through my coordinator of the mother body, Hon Godwin Abu Edoh Sports Development, many contacts are being established with some foreign technocrats that are ready to come over and develop sports in our area. For now, football is our mean focus and we hope to go into other sports in due course.
Any advice to your colleagues in the State House of Assembly and the players in your football academy?
To my honourable members, I will tell them football and sports development are a way of empowering the youths.
As a member you may not know all but with the assistance of technocrats you can achieve in various areas. And to my players in the football academy, this is a great opportunity for them to showcase their talents for future developments.