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The Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF) Mentorship Programme today provided the platform for young coaches and referees to tap from the rich experiences garnered by veteran football coach, James Peters, accomplished coaches Emmanuel Babayaro, Tama Aondofa, Tijani Babangida as well as FIFA-badged referee, Robert Aundugh either on or off the field of play.

Addressing participants today at the Dreams Event Centre in Makurdi, Founder of ESLF and First Lady of Benue State, Dr. Eunice Ortom, pointed out that recognising the vital role which coaches play in the lives of young footballers, the Foundation deemed it fit to organise the mentorship programme to add value to the young coaches and referees to enable them deliver better on their mandate.

Dr. Ortom who observed that the role of a coach stretches beyond mere coaching and requires also serving as a role model, charged them to recognise that young footballers need their guidance and encouragement to grow and, in her words, “It is our responsibility to see that the talents of our young ones are recognised and exposed to the world. It is our collective responsibility to support their aspiration to succeed”.

The First Lady urged teams to participate in the upcoming ESLF Football Tournament slated to kick-off next Monday 9th May, 2022 which would serve as an open door to more fruitful partnership between ESLF and all participants.

Addressing the mentees, Former national coach, James Peters who cautioned that “you do not have to be wicked to be a coach”, harped on the need to strike a balance between relationship, professionalism, friendship and duty.

Another of the mentors, coach and 1996 soccer Olympics Gold medalist, Emmanuel Babayaro said coaches should stand by their conviction, brand themselves properly, leverage on association and approach coaching as a business to challenge themselves to put in their utmost best.

He prescribed networking with Only Quality People (OQP) as a sure strategy for success.Former Captain of BCC Lions, later Assistant Coach of Nigeria’s U-17, Moses Kpakor, who eventually retired from coaching to the classroom, described coaching as a noble profession likened to fathering a child: they both operate on same methodology, principle and strategy.

Kpakor charged coaches to “train players, physically, technically and tactically” and urged them to help players to psychologically develop the capacity to face the rigours of the game.

He cautioned against the dangers of favoritism, abusive language, undue punishment and destructive criticisms adding that punishment should be creative and geared towards improving players’ skills and boosting their morale.

On his part, former ex-international and Super Eagles winger and Ajax star, Tijani Babangida, encouraged coaches to muster the courage to feature young talented players in the midst of star players even against the dictate of football administrators.

Chairman of the upcoming ESLF football tournament, Emmanuel Tama Aondofa urged coaches to work on players’ individual weaknesses through repetitive correction until they get it right.

FIFA-badged referee, Robert Aundugh mentioned discipline, tolerance, digital literacy, respect for elders and understanding the laws of the game as vital tips necessary to succeed as a referee and urged match officials to use pre-match meetings to explain thorny issues in order to minimize controversies during matches.

In their separate remarks, the younger coaches and mentees at the programme including the Secretary, Benue State Referees Association, Anthony Gbilekaa, Magashi Terna Jesus, Peter Lahaga, Benedict Atule and a female coach, Judith Benson all appreciated Dr. Ortom for the mentorship programme specially organised for coaches and referees which they described as “the very first of its kind in the State”.

Emmanuel Enenche Umele


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