Young football talents in Benue State have been charged to dream big and put their dreams to action to enable them soar to global recognition like former football maestros and Olympics gold medalists, Tijani Babangida and Emmanuel Babayaro as well as legends like Benue-born Moses Kpakor, Tama Aondofa and other ex-footballers in Nigeria.
Founder, Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF) and First Lady of Benue State, Dr. Eunice Ortom gave this charge today while addressing young footballers at a special mentorship session organised by the Foundation for young footballers in Makurdi the State Capital.
Dr. Ortom urged the young participants to imbibe the values of self-discipline, respect for self and one another, as well as showcase other good character traits to nurture their potentials to greatness.
“ESLF is deliberate about promoting the game of football…and I will be the happiest person to watch you all do great exploits at the global stage”, the ESLF Founder affirms.
She expressed optimism that by God’s grace, the mentoring and football development programme by her Foundation would be sustained and its dividends would spread eventually to the entire Benue community.
“This mentorship is packaged to see you succeed, not only on the field of football, but also on the larger pitch of life as the mentors will guide, motivate and inspire you with their wealth of experience to enable you make better decisions in life.”
Also addressing participants, the Director, SIMA Soccer Academy, Florida USA, Mr. Mike Potempa who described Africa as home to some of the most talented soccer talents in the world, advised young footballers to acquire education while pursuing their football dreams to give them something to fall back on after their football career.
Mr. Potempa who is also an ESLF Ambassador said it was his education that forged the pathway for him to succeed in life after his professional football career which started at age 21, came to an abrupt end at age 22; an experience that, inspired his life equation that, “education plus sports equals opportunity”.
The SIMA Soccer Academy Director who disclosed the many opportunities for female footballers in the US, urged them to keep playing, training and believing in themselves.
“Your football career can be taken from you…but education remains the most powerful thing you can ever have…so as you prepare to play your soccer game, you should also prepare for the game of life and be tolerant, respectful and have integrity, ”, Potempa declared.
On his part, former Super Eagles goalkeeper, Emmanuel Babayaro who commended ESLF and its Founder, stressed that the ESLF Football Tournament, now slated to commence May 9th, would give birth to many super stars in Benue State which, in his assessment, produces some of the best footballers in Nigeria. He pointed out scholarship, talent hunt and coaching courses as some of the benefits packaged in that programme and “ESLF has given you the platform to achieve greatness through this programme which remains one of the best in the country”, he told the players.
Lending his voice, Benue-born soccer legend, Moses Kpakor noted that mentorship, as provided by ESLF, remains one of the most important steps to motivate young ones to success. Kpakor harped on the need for mentors to make themselves available for mentees, serving as a bridge and springboard to their success, ensure active listening and have the analytical skills required.
“I was once like you so I urge you not to be intimidated by the towering images of international players. Do set goals for yourselves as I did in 1979 that I would play for Nigeria…and in 1982 that dream came through.
Other dignitaries at the event included the Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Hon. Teryina Nguher, Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Tabitha Igirgi and representative of Mrs. Margaret Icheen who all praised ESLF sports development and youth empowerment.
Responding, some of the mentees including the Assistant Captain of a Makurdi-based female team, Honey Badgers, Ms Injimaco Mngunengen, DreamFoot Football Academy winger, Sule Moses and Emmy Jeks Football Academy goalkeeper, Hyamber Philip all expressed gratitude to ESLF and its Founder and First Lady of Benue State and noted that the mentorship had given them a platform to take them to the next level of their career.