By Eagle Eye Sports24
From Nigeria’s ghetto slums in Ajegunle to footballer and sports philanthropist,Eddy Egbe is putting smiles into the lives of so many Nigerians.
Egbe,a former footballer,is now a coach and sports philanthropist cum administrator.He grew up in Nigeria’s impoverished ghetto called Ajegunle,a suburb in Lagos,Nigeria’s commercial capital,where he first learned to play football with home made rag balls.
Egbe’s longstanding commitment to humanitarian activities,especially in Lagos,has earned him accolades and admiration from many including leading sports personalities and ex-footballers that they christened him,’The Beacon of Hope”.
Eddison Egbe,had a not too flourishing football career despite his rich potentials at the local level despite possessing great prospects before he jettisoned out of the shores of Nigeria to seek greener pastures in Sweden,where he currently resides. After hanging his boots from active football, Egbe delved into other ventures which amongst them was football management, coaching vis-à-vis philanthropist which has made him a household name in the sports fraternity amongst his admirers.
Eddison Egbe,spoke exclusively to Ejoh C.E,Global Editor,Eagle Eye Watch News in Lagos,shortly after the Annual All Stars Football Match held at the Nigeria Navy Sports Ground ,Apapa.
My name is Eddison Egbe,I grew up in Ajegunle-Apapa,Lagos.I have played football all my life before I hanged my boots and travelled to Sweden where I presently resides.
I also have children who are footballers over there in Europe and I have always returned back home every December to give back to the society because I was born and breed in Ajegunle in Lagos,South-West,Nigeria.
Motivation for sponsoring the End-of-the-Year All Stars Football Match.
My motivation for being part of the sponsorship of the Ajegunle All Stars-End-of-the-Year football match was borne out of my desire to alleviate some of the challenges encounter by the upcoming players in the community. Some of us that have been privilledge to have gone overseas should also assist in this regard.I contacted a lot of football clubs in Europe and shared my vision of supporting my community in Nigeria especially my pet football clubs,so they normally assist me in that regard,while I pay for the commission and transportation of the kits down home.
Football in Sweden
The difference is very clear because over there in Sweden they have a lot of facilities unlike here in Nigeria where we lack the basic football amenities.In Sweden right from the kindergarten they are already been nurtured to play football.So my experience over there is what I am trying to replicate here in Nigeria.
We are still backward in terms of the development of the game in Nigeria.Sometimes people will say that Nigeria is the giant of Africa.I want to sincerely admit that we are not the giant at all. We have a lot to do here in Nigeria in order to ascribe ourselves as giant.Imagine the last World Cup in Qatar our country couldn’t even qualify.
The Dearth of Grassroots football in Ajegunle
Yes,that is a good question.Truly we are experiencing the dearth of grassroots football in Ajegunle compared to the past when the area was known as the”Mecca of Football”in Nigeria.
AJ as it’s fondly called was noted for hosting the popular’Mock Nations Cup’ which attracted lots of football fans globally.One major problem necessitating the decline of these competition is that most of the pioneers of these grassroots competitions are no more around why some of them are no longer active due to age.
If only the organizers can secure sponsorship and investors these competitions will be revived.
Addressing players frustration
When our players travel to Europe or elsewhere to play professional football they should be properly guided by football agents in order not to be deceived. This is because in Europe it’s a different ball game over there and if not properly managed players become frustrated,leading to hardship and poverty occasionally being experienced by most AJ footballers.
The only way this ugly issue can be properly addressed is for the agents of these footballers to be truthful and honest to these players.
Decline of the NPFL
The Nigerian Premier Football League(NPFL)has truly decline in terms of quality and standard. Nonetheless, I think that the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF)and the league body needs to sit down and bring investors to develop the league.We may not be able for now to rub shoulders with most European leagues but we have to start from some where .I know that our league used to be one of the best in Africa during the 80’s and 90’s.I also feel that the NFF should know what to do and I sincerely believe that they will do more better with the emergence of the new board.
Venturing into Coaching and football administration
Yes,I have also ventured into coaching.l have my B-Licence in coaching in Sweden,where I coached a 4th Division side because of my training and experience as a former footballer.
I have been instrumental to the transfer of so many African players over here in Sweden to some elite clubs in Europe.For example players like;Innocent Bonki,Edward Offori(Malmo- Sweden and Empoli in I Italy),and Emmanuel Ekong Also in Italy.
Last Words to players seeking greener pastures overseas
My advice to them all is that it’s not easy over there in Europe. We all need to exercise patience in our lives pursuit.