From an early age, football was a major part of Abubakar Bala’s life. The Niger Tornadoes gaffer against all odds began his coaching career at an early age of 16 in Minna, with a non league side called Kiss FC in 1985.
Bala, born in Minna, to the family of late Wakilin Nupawa and Ndeji of Minna, decided at a young age that his abilities as a footballer were limited. Instead committed his time to analysing players to develop his knowledge in the round leather game, in the hope of following the footsteps of some of the greatest football coaches in the world.
Over the years, the merchant tactician has been regarded as one of the best managers in the Nigeria Professional Football League. From guiding Kwara United out of relegation in his first season with the ‘Afonja’ warriors to getting Niger Tornadoes to two finals of the AITEO Cup in 2017 and 2019 respectively. Bala Abubakar has continued to show why he is one of the best everywhere he goes to.
“I got into coaching very early because I realised very young that I love playing football and was good at spotting talents,” Bala told one of Nigeria’s biggest Whatsapp Sports Group, *Family United by Football (FUBF).*
“I realised I wanted to do something else than just playing football, so I decided to follow my dream of becoming a football manager.
“I grew up with sports in my blood, began playing for my primary school at the tender age of 9 and continued playing football in secondary school. In 1985, I represented Niger State at the National Sports Festival, hosted by Kwara State and from there, I made up my mind on being a manager.
“I started to coach at my local club in Minna, Kiss FC from 1985 through 2006, from where I joined Nationwide League One Side, Bida Loins FC from 2006 through 2009.
“I joined Black Stars in 2009 and left just after a season to re-join Bids Lions FC, in 2011, I was named Head Coach of NLO Division Two side, Patrols FC of Umuaka, Imo State, and in 2013 was with FC Lokoja.
“In 2013, I served as assistant coach to Abdullahi Biffo at Niger Tornadoes and was later named the Head Coach and led the ‘Ikoh Allah’ boys to the finals of the 2017 AITEO Cup and lost to Akwa United via penalty shootout.
“I joined Kwara United afterwards and in 2019 was back to Niger Tornadoes, where I led them to another AITEO Cup final, this time losing to Kano Pillars in the final,” he concluded.