The President of the spoke with National Daily’s Esther Egbe recently about how the Covid-19 has put their work on hold and more.
Just like every other organization, you must have planned your activities for the year. What were the previous plans that have now been disrupted by the covid-19 pandemic and how have you support in the fight of the virus?
We have planned our second edition of Supporters Club Awards which was slated for June, but that seem impossible with the look of things. We also planned to unveil our Jersey and to lay a foundation for our club house. A land has been given to us at Maryland in Lagos. I want to bequeath that to the club before I retire in three years’ time.
We have also produced high-quality cloth face masks for distribution to our numerous members in the country with particular interest to the states with a high record of the dreaded Coronavirus 19.
How do you raise funds for all your engagements and are you on Sponsorship?
We have sponsors at the moment and we are also blessed with quality members who are professional in different spheres. Some are permanent secretaries, bankers, oil moguls and businessmen generally. We usually pulled resources together to run the club. I also contribute a very large sum to ensure we carry out any assignment that is of importance to the club. Aside this however, we have some sports lovers in the society that supports us from time to time. People like Nwoko Ned, Rev. Mother Esther Ajayi and so many others including Members of the Senate.
Is Canada not totally locked down like it is in Nigeria?
Here in Canada we are still able to move around with caution though.
There is this rumour that you don’t have a functional administrative office. How true is this?
Well that is their problem, if at my level we don’t have a functional secretariat how can we then say we have a club? We rented the former eatery at Teslim Balogun known as Zaboom. It’s a duplex and we pay 2.5 million naira yearly. Our club is well structured and like you know, we have 21 members in the exco. If I am not around the deputy president takes charge. But I am in touch daily.
How do any individual join your supporters club, what are the requirements?
There is something known as screening committee headed by Elder Ologunye who was the Vice to Dr Rafiu Oladipo, when he was chairman of NFSC . He screens every member and recommend to us before admitting such ones.
Requirements include being a Nigerian, one must have a verifiable means of income, one must also belong to and support a local team and must love Nigeria football.
What are your objectives for the Supporters Club in the next five years?
When I watch teams abroad and their supporters especially teams like Real Madrid and the way their supporters adorn their white Jerseys I am usually moved. I have decided that within the next two years I want to see our Stadia filled with green and white anytime our National Teams are playing.
Owu Sports are working with Haggai Sports to produce 20000 jerseys for our home games alone till will be able to achieve operation green at our stadium.
The name of your club is “Super Eagles Supporters Club”. Does that mean that you are not interested in other national teams like the Golden Eaglets, Flying Eagles, Chan Eagles, the Dream team and even the women’s National teams?
That the name is Super Eagles Supporters club does not mean that we do not support other national teams and club sides. We were the only club in France for the Women U-20 and the Super Falcons. Just like NFF their core business is Super Eagles even though they have the cadet teams. Our main concern is Super Eagles, but we support other teams as well.
Would you subscribe to the merging of all the Supporters Clubs in Nigeria into one indivisible family?
If there is sincerity of purpose and we are ready for the truth I will not hesitate to support. They must go back and trace the reason why the club was fragmented in the first place. Ladipo didn’t form the club, but he has refused to quit the stage now we have other people who were my junior officers running their own clubs registered and not registered. If we have to come back together we must look at the problems from the root..
How have you been coping with your rival? Some members started with your team before they left to form their own group?
We are coping pretty well because our focus and vision is quite unique and different from others. Our activities are so much that we hardly had time to bother about rivalry. Besides, the country is big enough to accommodate anyone who genuinely wants to support our national teams with their time and resources It’s a truism to say that some of them broke out from my group to set up theirs, there is nothing strange or unusual in this because I also broke out of a dysfunctional system to create my own group . When an apprentice took tutelage from his master after a while he’s let go. But one thing that is very instructive is the fact that I am the first to open up the space for others to come so in that sense I deserve some accolade and respect.
We have had this unhealthy rivalry between rival Supporters Clubs. What is the major cause of this and how can we put an end to such disgraceful outings?
For those who doesn’t know us. It’s safe to say that we at SESC are not in competition with any one. We are proud to say that we have done well in terms of supporting Nigeria football over the years and we shall continue if corona virus allows us. Our club has presence in virtually all parts of Nigeria and we don’t hire crowd. We are the first club in Nigeria to institute an award night. We have a magazine quarterly known as Super Supporters and our induction night is every month at our secretariat located at Teslim Balogun Stadium.
We are very matured in what we are doing, you won’t find me or my group trying to put anyone down but others do it with relish. Nigeria is big enough to accommodate every group and as far as I am concerned, they are welcome. Our stadium has a capacity of 40000 to 50000. We need fans to come cheer the teams. Let us all work together as long as our objectives are the same. We are not being paid so why fighting to support our country except there is an indecent motive.
What is your biggest challenge?
Biggest challenge is the perception of people towards the Supporters Clubs in Nigeria. Some believe it is for touts which I find very offensive. I don’t know about other groups, but at Super Eagles Supporters Club, we have men and women that are well respected in the society amongst us, we have professionals in different field of endeavours, businessmen and all. Our Chairman Board of trustees is Otunba Sola Oladejo of Liberty Pools, we have other people on the board from the six geopolitical zones and others too numerous to mention. Chairman of chairmen is the permanent secretary from a Ministry in Bayelsa who also doubled as the chairman of Bayelsa State, Barr. Dr. Dagana. We have educated and well to do people as members. In other climes, supporters play a vital role as the 12 man on the field and are well respected. It is not for drop-outs or the jobless in the society. It is pure passion.
What is your greatest achievement for the Supporters Club?
Greatest achievement so far would be the way and manner we have taken Supporters Club a notch higher. We have gone full digital such that membership can be done online. We have grown from 2000 members when I took over to over 10000 active members now. We have secured a land where a permanent club house would be built, we fought the status quo and have now liberated supporters club from being in the hands of an individual who have refused to step down after 30 years in the office. We are the first to provide alternative and competitiveness in the way we support the national teams with lots of catching innovations. The list is endless.
What do you think about coach Rohr?
I am happy with coach Rohr because of the decent job he has done in building a team that we can all be proud of.
Yes, he hasn’t won any trophy for Nigeria, but he has won the heart of Supporters Club by building the team around youth and fitness. Not to mention the stability he has also brought to the team and his calm disposition to life generally. He should be given another chance to continue his good job.
How can you rate our league?
How long have you been leading your Supporter Club?
I have been leading Supporters Club since 2014 and in 2 to 3 years I shall be stepping aside for someone else to take the stage.
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