Gabriel Davids didn’t play football to the level of some popular former Nigeria internationals. However, with his modest career achievement playing in the African continent, Daniels has not only decided to give back to the game, with a talent haunt programme, but, also, make legitimate earning from the round leather game.
In this interview with our Group Sports Editor, Emma Jemegah, in Port Harcourt, the former Mogas ‘90 FC of Benin Republic reveals his vision for Ottasolo FC, a two-week-old team that caused hearts to palpitate during the Governor Nyesome Wike preseason tourney.
Although Ottasolo were eliminated in the group stage, their performance was enough to earn them award of the Best Team of the tournament.
Tell us about your football career
I played football a little. I played for the Stationary Stores of Lagos in 1993. I also played for Dragons of Benin Republic alongside Peter Rufai. Before I retired from the game, I played for Mogas 90 and Energie, all in Benin Republic, before I delved into other businesses when I got to Europe.
You discovered some players and took them to Benin Republic. Can you mention their names?
It’s true I discovered some players who later became household names in Benin Republic. It may interest you to know that I’ve an academy in Lagos, and we regularly organise age group competitions. It’s during one of those tournaments that players like Muri Ogunbiyi and Razak Omotoyosi and Jonas Oketola that played for Enyimba and won the CAF Champions League way back were discovered. I took them to Benin Republic and they ended up playing for that country because they had no such opportunity to represent Nigeria, their country of births.
You now sponsor a professional football team, what is your vision?
I’ve been abroad for years even though I come home occasionally, but this time, I’m back home to help upcoming footballers who are on the street, because I know the importance of footballers and I love to promote them to limelight.
Football business in Nigeria is hardly profitable; apart from giving the youth the opportunity to develop their skills, do you expect any financial reward from this project?
Yes, I can achieve success because it’s my passion. However, let me say this, I’m putting my money because I’m doing business. As I’m raising the younger ones, I’m equally doing business to turn them to big players and sell them. For example, during the Governor Wike pre-season competition, there was a scout that came to pick two of my players. That alone gave me joy and I love that. I will negotiate and I’m aware that some money will come to me, I know my effort won’t be in vain.
Do you think the Nigeria environment is thriving enough for private football owners?
I don’t really know much about Nigeria football. I’m just doing what I love. I realised that the Nigeria government is not helping our youth. So, any individual who offers to do what I’m doing, I think it’s a big opportunity for the young stars.
Looking at what you’ve done with this club, so far, do you intend to play in the league or remain an amateur club?
You know, if you want to go into football business, you have to grow gradually. It’s step by step, I will be playing amateur football for now because I have a camp, a field and everything to take care of my boys.
Do you have partnership with any foreign team?
Yes, I do. Malmo FC in Sweden have been discussing with me. They have a Nigerian friend on their board. Everything we do here, I send it to them. They will be coming by December to scout for players and see my facilities. They are aiming to partner with me. I also have another one in Latvia. I love that because I can’t do it alone. If I see more partners, I will welcome them and we’ll kick off the business.