Nigeria needs to embrace grassroots development starting from remote parts of the country if it wants to develop its football potentials, Temitayo Sharafadeen Bakare, the President of Supreme God House Sports academy, has said. In an interview with Vanguard in Lagos, the grassroots football development enthusiast shared his personal experience in the game while describing football as the most ‘unifying’ tool for harmony in the world.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My name is Temitayo Sharafadeen Bakare. I was born in the year 1979. I have my first school leaving certificate at Temidire Primary School, Oke Odo. From there to Oke Odo High School for my Junior High School and I ended up at Orile Agege Community High School, Agege for my SSCE.
I studied Banking and Finance at Lagos State Polytechnic, Isolo, for National Diploma Certificate and BSc Political Science from Lagos State University, Ojo. I am from Ilishan Remo, Ogun State.
What led to the birth of Supreme God House Sports Academy(SGH)?
I will start by telling you that my passion for soccer had been in existence from my tender age. I could remember in the year 1989, Nigeria played a match with USSR in Saudi Arabia. I was watching the match and they (USSR) were leading by 4 goals to nil. To my amazement, we started scoring from 4-1 to 4-4. I can remember vividly well that we won the match.
I was living at 44, Abiodun Street, Shomolu, in Lagos then. Immediately after the match, everybody was on the street dancing, singing and we did that for over five to six hours. I see the excitement in people, I see the joy that football could bring, I see Hausa hugging Igbo, Yoruba hugging Hausa and I realised that football doesn’t have tribe nor language; football is universal.
That moment spurred me to develop interest in football and I started playing street soccer in Shomolu before we moved to Alimisho. The my involvement in street soccer started growing.
In 1999, when we got a democratic system of government, suddenly, we had new telecommunications companies of which MTN, Airtel and Globacom were the service providers. Suddenly, MTN started sponsoring street soccer in Lagos and by that time I was already working in Alimosho Local Government.
Even before then, I have been involved in grassroots football playing and encouraging people to play and when the MTN street soccer came in line, I happened to be the Assistant Sport officer of my Local Government in Lagos and I was doing it with passion and zeal.
Immediately after the MTN street soccer, I adopted some of the boys that played for my Local Government and I started sponsoring them for grassroots football in my local government. I could remember in Abule Egba then, there was a team called Sir Donna FC. I always attended their training and buy them water to encourage those ones playing for the club.
To me, football is an avenue to take all those boys roaming around off the street to engage them. My involvement and passion in street soccer transformed into SGH Sports Academy.
How did SGH Sports Academy start?
Supreme God House (SGH) sports academy came in place officially in the year 2018 but it had been existing for almost one decade. A decade ago, there was a team called PM Sport at Egbeda, Alimosho Federal Constituency. They were the same set of boys that we used for MTN street soccer in those days.
Immediately after MTN street soccer like I said earlier, I was engaging them by giving them money, buying boots for those that were ready to play football. I was like a sponsor for PM Sport, supporting them during competitions. And my dream has been to own a football Academy.
I was a career officer in Alimosho Local Government in 2003, and by the grace of God, I resigned in the year 2019. The sports academy is registered with Corporate Affairs Commission as well as affiliated with the Lagos state football association by extension, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and FIFA.
Supreme God House is grassroots-based. So how has this helped African continent in the development of football?
I can categorically tell you that SGH Sports academy has been able to contribute to the world of football in Africa to the Glory of God.
We have couple of players playing in other Africa countries league and I am sure that we have been able to add to their labour market because every footballer out there will be contributing to per capita income of every country, which means they are adding value to any country where they are showcasing their talents. We have partnerships with some teams in Africa by trying to build our players.
You just launched a female football team. What they are bringing to the table?
SGH Sports academy is an academy for both males and females. Long before now, we have four female players in SGH they include Adanna Nwachukwu, Ngozi Eze, Bello Aminat Omowunmi and Taiwo. They have been in SGH for years and they have been doing wonderfully well in their chosen career.
As we are aware, female football is growing in Nigeria and other African countries. Looking into the history of Nigeria female football, Nigeria has produced the likes of Mercy Akide, Perpetual Nkwocha and Azeezat Oshoala and lots of talented female players.
It has been our dream all this while which made us keep the girls in the midst of male footballers and we saw the need to contribute our quota to the development of female football in Nigeria. This prompted SGH Sports academy to launch a formidable female team because we believe the women are our mothers and we need to do our best to help them.
We believe our female counterparts can do better than we expected. SGH Sports academy is not only about sports; we combine sports and education and we believe if other academies can produce the likes of Asisat Oshoala, Rasheedat Ajibade and Perpetual of this world, there is nothing stopping us from doing same in Alimosho, which happened to be the most populated local government in Nigeria.
We have an abundance of talent and that is why we decided that we need to get involved in women’s football and we believe we will do our best in their growth.
What’s your strategy to take SGH to the next level?
There are numerous football academies in Nigeria that have produced lots of talents. We are expecting SGH Sports academy to produce footballers that will represent the national team.
Our main and objectives is to take players out of the street, teach them the rudiments of soccer so they can represent Nigeria and wear the green-white-green jersey as well as taking them to Europe so they can be valuable assets for their parents and families as well as adding value to the Nigeria economy.
We would like you to advise up and coming football stars, who have little or no hope of being successful in this career?
Football is a very serious game that requires total energy and commitment. Football can transform anybody’s life. We have so many footballers we can use as reference. All I can say is believe in yourselves, be e, disciplined and, above all, be prayerful.
If football can transform the life of Taribo West, Julius Aghahowa, Mikel Obi and Victor Osimhen who is presently playing for Napoli, there is nothing stopping any individual that has passion and zeal to play football from excelling.
All they need is to remain focus and committed, knowing that sky is their starting point.
Vanguard News Nigeria