Papilo FC players COMPLETE FOOTBALL 30
GRASSROOTS MADIBA FC: POLISHING ROUGH DIAMONDS asirat Adebisi Adeyemi is a young lady Bwith big dreams. She’s a woman driven by the determination to make a change. She dreams of a time when her inner-city suburb of Oshodi in Lagos State, Nigeria will be free of crime and other vices. She looks forward to when the many young boys roaming the streets of Oshodi without a job and without a hope for the future will be able to nurture their innate talents and rewrite the stories of their lives by aspiring to go as far as their talents will allow. Basirat aims to achieve this using sports, especially football, as a vehicle. An international footballer herself, she founded Madiba Football Club in 2014 as a means of diverting the attention of the young boys in the area away from endemic crimes and a platform to achieve their dream of playing for the top European clubs where their talents will help put the world at their feet. “Football is not only my profession, it is also something that gives me joy. I also like to assist those who have not been lucky to have the kind of priviledges I’ve been blessed with because when I look at them, I see my own story,” she said about the reason why she established the club. Madiba FC started as a Futsal 7-aside team before Adebisi decided to turn it into a full-fledged club due to the enthusiasm shown by the players and their determination to succeed. Even the choice of name reflected gritty determination and a never-say-die attitude, attributes synonymous with the club. She said: “We chose ‘Madiba’ because of my love and admiration for the late Nelson Mandela. He had a strong spirit and never gave up in the face of intimidation and despite all the cruelty shown to him. We try to inculcate these characteristics into the players to believe that they can succeed in spite of all the odds which are 31 COMPLETE FOOTBALL stacked against them.” Adeyemi runs Madiba FC with her fiancé Alhaji Isa Olabode, a businessman who’s also the club president. Together they hope to make the club a model for others to emulate. One feature of Madiba, which stands them apart from other teams, is the quality of their kits. According to Olabode, the players are given this standard of equipment to show them that they are equally as talented the professional players they admire. “We plan to register the club to play in the league but for now we are happy to just see the boys enjoy playing football. Most of them also have personal financial needs which we try to meet as much as we can. We supply them with quality kits, feed and give them stipends in order to encourage them. Most of them also have personal financial needs which we try to meet as much as we can,” the president said. Ikechi Peter is captain of the team and he has implicit trust in the ability of the coaches to help him and his teammates improve their game and be ready for a move to Europe – their ultimate destination. Kamal Mohammed, a defender, is also grateful for the improvement in his game since joining Madiba two years ago. “My game has really improved since I joined Madiba through the effort of the coaches and support of the management. I see myself playing in Europe very soon because I have the strength, skills and ability to launch attacks from the defence. The coaches have told me my weakness is in my speed and slow recovery and I’m already working on it to improve because I know I can get better,” the ebony black left full-back said. Head Coach of the side is Daramola Olaoluwa Bamishe and he’s happy with the “focused and well-meaning management structure running the Adeyemi club.” Madiba is run as a non-profit organization but it is expected that when some of the players move on to other clubs in and outside the country, the proceeds can be reinvested in the team. “I believe things will turn around in the next year or two for some of the players. When they make it to the top, it will bring glory to Madiba FC. That’s our target, not immediate gains. We have some players who have moved abroad and some still scheduled to leave soon. The success stories of these players are a testimony that we are already achieving our aims and objectives and that makes me very happy,” Adeyemi said. Madiba trains weekdays at the Jalisco playground, Oshodi.