Leadership and management are crucial to the success of any organization, and a football club is certainly no different.
It’s no longer news that Sporting Lagos FC have gained promotion to the apex league, the Nigeria Premier Football League in their second attempt in Nigeria National League.
But the team’s promotion didn’t come that easy if not for a man with the magic touch, rather expertise- and it’s no other person than ace broadcaster cum football administrator, Godwin Enakhena.
Enakhena, now wears a ‘Promotion Specialist’ tag having achieved the feat as Chairman of MFM FC when they got promoted to the NPFL, and with Sporting Lagos.
Though challenging and though, Enakhena shares his experience, ups and downs, strategies he and his team employed to getting it right in the second season of the club, his thanks and what to expect in the new season.
“People or organizations have different reasons for startups, and what is most important isn’t the startup but how committed you’re to driving the vision to its logical conclusion.
The model used to start up Sporting Lagos is simple. A generational football team that will outlive the founders, a platform for Nigerian youths and even beyond Africa to showcase their God-given talents and earn a living. A football club that’s run professionally and commercially.
Sporting Lagos isn’t the first to have this kind of dream but what is different is walking the talk, and only the private sector or individuals can replicate this.
“With modesty, it will be out of place to say that Sporting Lagos almost went under in our first season in the Nigeria National League because of inexperience. Far from it because I put together a team of experienced managers and players, but something went wrong that I’ll rather not talk about today because we made it at the second attempt.
“Honestly, for me playing my small part in Sporting Lagos Football Club’s promotion from the dreaded NNL to the Nigeria Premier League in 16 months is still like a good dream that I don’t want to wake up from.
I want to first and foremost dedicate this achievement to God almighty for always rewarding positive hard work and dedication.
“I won’t forget to mention my father in the Lord, lover of youths, Dr Daniel Olukoya, the General Overseer, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries for his fervent prayers for me.
I thank the founder of Sporting Lagos, Shola Akinlade, and his team, Iron Lady Ekene Agu, Fola, and Kaylah, the real VIPs are the footballers, my indefatigable Team Manager Miss Yemisi Cole, my head coach Paul Offor, who is a very humble young man, coach Micah, coach Abdul, the backroom staff, Lagos State Football Association, and our fans. I say to God alone be the glory.”
On his relationship with Shola Akinlade:
Enakhena has this to say.
“I have an amazing relationship with Shola Akinlade. A gentleman per excellence, if smiles and laughter were for sale, he would be making millions per second. He’s simply down-to-earth and an unassuming young man. What has not stopped amazing me is his near-absolute trust in what he believes I can accomplish, and lead the team in the right direction, and I’m joyous that as a team, we’ve vindicated him.
Shola feels fulfilled for making the right choices while setting up Sporting Lagos. The first mission has been accomplished, and the young man is delighted, just like the entire team.
On how the fortunes of the club changed for good.
“There’s no magic other than you having a Shola, Ekene, and Fola behind you, founders who had a dream, looked for persons they believe can help them achieve set targets, backed it with all they’ve got, and remained committed to them even in very challenging times.
“Hats off to these young start-up tech gurus. These guys supported me, showed belief, and trusted the team and me to deliver. Whenever we needed to effect changes, they did in double quick times, with no ceremonies.”
With three private-owned teams now in the Nigeria Premier Football League, the ace sports journalist says the clubs have a voice.
“It means steady and gradual progress in the direction of having more privately owned football clubs in the elite division of football in Nigeria. With Remo Stars of Ikenne, DMD of Gombe, and now Sporting Lagos, 3 out of 20 teams, their inputs during discussions won’t be dwarfed as easily as it used to be.”
Passionate NPFL fans and residents in and out of Lagos should expect an electrifying atmosphere next season with Sporting Lagos.
“With what Sporting Lagos gives to fans on match days and what you experience when Remo plays in Ikenne, the message will be getting louder that football is big business.
“Imagine how fans now would gladly trade a movie watch to come to have better fun and excitement at the Onikan Stadium whenever Sporting Lagos is playing. There’s so much positivity in Sporting Lagos’s promotion to the NPL.
“Wow! Have you been to the Onikan stadium whenever Sporting Lagos is playing? Well, if you’ve, you’ll know that if the crowd you see is there not minding how big the visiting teams are, you can imagine what it will be like for the Alaba market traders when Enugu Rangers and Enyimba come visiting. Words fail me to describe the frenzy games like this laced with entertainment would do to getting fans back to Stadia in Lagos. Don’t even mention fans who will have to go to the stadium to watch their favourite teams like Shooting Stars of Ibadan or Kano Pillars, who pull a lot of fans will be like.
What is not in doubt is that football is back in Lagos! The fans will be back too.”