Super Eagles Supporters Club, (SESC) Chairman and Proprietor, Dickalo Football Academy, Architect Olubunmi Komolafe Dickalo has disclosed that he is embarking on what may turn out to be the most penetrating grassroots haunt for soccer talents in Nigeria, stating that gratitude from indigent players’ parents and practical evidence of prosperity in the lives of players are his motivation in the venture.
He made this disclosure to Sports Writers Association Nigeria (SWAN) Kwara State Chapter chairman, Ayodeji Ismail and some members of his executives on Sunday.
The soccer loving philanthropist also explained his resolve to fully partner the SWAN in this venture, stating that in the business of soccer development and business, sports writers have major roles to play.
Aside from being a proprietor of a growing soccer academy spread across the country with some billed to travel to European countries soon, Dickalo is into construction, especially corporate level constructions and infrastructure building; he runs a flourishing water bottling company and farming enterprise.
Explaining the motivations behind his venture, Dickalo said that seeing gratitude from people whose wards he nurtured into success in football is all the motivation he needs to do more for soccer development in Kwara State.
According to him, he intends to bring in talents into Ilorin from far flung places in Kwara North and South; from outside the state like Oyo, Ogun and Osun. “We are bringing them into Ilorin for a competition fully sponsored by Dickalo Group,” he said.
“In the days ahead, I intend to go into intensive scouting and talent hunting. This is because all the players we have now are registered players.
“This means that they are either on the payroll of an agent or an academy has been taking care of the boy’s training and nurturing; with such players you see efforts at getting him to top flight soccer at some level.
“These players are no longer getting younger. So it’s better you go to the basics, the grassroots, where you can exhume talents. I have one of such, Taiye, by name, from Otte, outskirt of Ilorin. I have all his biometric details.
“I used to have players who we couldn’t ascertain their true age. But now, I don’t because I let them all go.
“This is why I am recruiting experts in this terrain and even consulting with SWAN on this project.
“This time we are talent haunting for pupils less than 15 years. We mean true 15, that we can verify scientifically; they must be from very poor backgrounds; like they don’t have parents, can’t afford school fees and so on.
“One of my players now outside this country wore only one set of jerseys for two months. We had to buy sets of dressings for training and so on.
“So it’s not about money at all,” he explains.
On the motivation behind the project of Dickalo Scouting Competition, he says that results in investing in grassroots sports bring joy to people. If there is no result, I wouldn’t be doing it.
Dickalo’s soccer academy is barely a year old. But the football school already has over 16 players in the NNL, Nigeria’s second tier league and the NPFL, the premier Nigerian league.
“As I speak to you, I have about six players travelling out of the country. If I get all six to do trials abroad, I will definitely get one of them signed on in a good club.
“These are my motivations; the thing about grassroots soccer is that it changes lives. I am involved in changing lives. One of my players is in Kwara United.
“He is called Ijaya, Azeez Lawal; he came from Wikki Tourist. His mother came to me, rolling on the floor with gratitude.
“The joy on the faces of such parents gives me joy. As a matter of fact, she brought me a bottle of wine which I refused to open and drink. I am keeping the drink as a souvenir.
“When I see the bottle of wine, I see immense gratitude from a grateful parent for what I have done for one of my players.
“As I speak to you, Ijaya is leaving for Greece on trials soon. We are only waiting for his letters.