…… Invincible Angels FC Team Manager Engr. George Igbana warns former players
The history of women football in Benue State dates back in the early 90’s when Benue Queens played in the then Nigeria Female Amateur and Professional Leagues. Mummy Grace Iyorhe was a pillar among that generations both as a player and official/sponsor, she is still very much alive and can tell it in plain language that running women football was not moin moin.
The first group of people who founded female football in Nigeria were Elder Eddington Kuejobola, Late Chief Larry Eze, Mr.John Pinowei, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Princess Bola Jegede, Rt Hon Alhaja Omidiran, Late FIFA Ref John Saiki were among the private and few government owners that started female football in Nigeria.
In the late 90’s and 2000 we now had the likes of Coach Emmanuel Osahon, Mr. Smart Kigbu, and my boss Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy who started Invincible Angels which I became an integral part of.
In the year 2000, Invincible Angels FC Gboko was formed and the aims and objectives of the club was to harness the abundant talent in the young girls and redirect their energy into a more meaningful course. To uplift our sisters from the merely marriageable and farming hand/ tools to become football stars in future and be able to cater for their families even if they later got married.
That was what we all agreed to achieve and make sure that more Benue girls plays for the Super Falcons like Martha Hembadoon Tarhemba Makir and Ajuma Ameh-Ottache whi were then the only Benue State players on the National team. .
Today, I feel fulfilled that when I refuse to go back to work for Dangote Cement Gboko after we were all disengaged. I choose to hold on to the vision of my mentor; Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy.
So, with no savings in the bank, no previous football playing/management experience, we sat down and started writing letters upon letters to well meaning Benue people intimating them of our visions and goals. We were sometimes embarrassed by some of these highly respectable people who accuse us of taking advantage of the desperate desire of these young girls to play football and sexually abuse them.
Even some parents did not help matters, they sometimes sent us away from their houses when we use to go for permission so that their daughters be allowed to train in the evening with the other girls.
We found few people who God gave the grace to foresee the future; Rev Fr Peter Agema Dr, Late Daniel Ior, Coach Pst Dominic Tehe, Late Mr Francis Orhena Kendan, Late Capt Daniel Igyor Papa Joseph Ordega Ankele: the father of Super Falcons striker Francisca Mlumun Ordega and Late Engr Benson Iorliam, the father of both Judith Benson and Juliet Iorliam. They were the only parents and club officials who were able to stand up in our meetings with the parents to convince a very few to allow their children exercise their God given talent.
No wonder Francisca Mlumun Ordega is still waxing stronger for the Super Falcons today.
Football is capital intensive we all know, to make the system work, the personalities mentioned above sacrificed their comfort zones, sold their personal properties, took bank loans, slept on bare floors so that their players could rest properly in hotel rooms for the next match.
Today, sometimes I sit down and wonder the amount of allegations people levelled against us as being criminals, the players that we even sacrificed ourselves for hardly comes back to show appreciation to us for our efforts to them. Picking them from the grassroots, placing them in schools, monitoring their progress, standing in as their parents in the times of needs, buying football kits for them and nurturing them to stardom.
As the Team Manager of Invincible Angels FC Gboko, it has become necessary for me to come out and throw this challenge at all the players that passed through our Invincible Angels FC Gboko especially those of Benue State origins to be very careful and learn to appreciate those who made sacrifices for them.
I have been one of the founding members and managers of Invincible Angels FC Gboko when it started on 28th August 2000. My relationship with Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy dates back to 1997 when we met each other both as staff of the then Benue Cement Company Plc Gboko now Dangote Cement Gboko Plant, owners of the once famous BCC Lions FC Gboko.
Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy was in the Finance and Administration Department while I was in Production Department but God in His infinite mercies brought us together. He has been my mentor, leader and big brother.
Apostle Chur Jr is a man so many people misunderstood, some people use to call him all manners of unprintable names but I can still stand with him because as a physically challenged man, he has a heart of charity and hard work. A man who never takes NO for an answer, a man who believes in people around him and treat everyone equally.
Not so many people in his position can do that; soliciting for assistance to help other people. This type of man is very rare in our present society where people are lovers of themselves and fame.
I don’t blame some people for such ignorance but the group of people I am most angry with are the players that passed through Invincible Angels FC Gboko.
The list of players is endless but I shall mention those who have become household names today; the likes of Soo Adekwagh, Linda Terdoo Kpamber, Francisca Mlumun Ordega, Loveth Ngusurun Ayila, Sandra Nguyum Chiichii, Mary Anam Imo, Alice Oya Ogebe, Mabel Effiom, Patience Kalu, Juliet Iorliam, Sandra Aernyi, Lillian Mwuese Tule, Charity Dooshima Tarnum, Paulina Orshio, Paulina Ali, Rita Tsebee, Princess Adoo Yina, Caroline Hembafan Ayatsea, Blessing Nkor, Rejoice Nguvan Atetan and Felicia Imojime etc.
I stand to be corrected that, Invincible Angels FC Gboko is the only women football club in the North Central Nigeria and the whole of Northern Nigeria that has produced 98% indigenous and prolific players who are still making waves in the Nigeria Women Football League and are spread all over the world today.
I would have rather remained silent but what has been coming out from the fake news reporters is what caught my attention and reaction. Rumour mills has it that some players of Invincible Angels FC have generated money to the tune of N9, 000,000 and given to Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy to build a house got me curious.
Who and who generated such amount that I know nothing of and in which account and bank was that money paid to? This nonsense talk has been everywhere in Gboko and Makurdi, only but in drinking joints.
I want to know, how many players have been able to buy a ball and donate to the club?
Maybe one or two might answer yes I did.
How many have donated jerseys, the simple answer is: Linda Terdoo Kpamber alone did that.
Maybe it could be the N5, 000,000 that the Governor of Benue State, His Excellency Dr Samuel Ortom, directed to be released to Invincible Angels FC Gboko for the 2017/2018 Nigeria Women Professional League when I in company of Francisca Mlumun Ordega paid a courtesy visit to the Governor. Miss Francisca Ordega pleaded with the Governor that government should take sponsorship of Invincible Angels FC to reduce the burden on Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy.
That news is in the public space already and you may Google it and prove my point.
Francisca Ordega sometimes donates her boots, jerseys and some other assistance to the younger players of the club. How many other players have done that as well?
Even when some of them come home during season breaks, they prefer to train with men and give men their jerseys. You may be surprised to see MEN wearing women jerseys and training at J. S. Tarkaa Stadium Gboko. I began to wonder, are these not the young girls that we were receiving insults and all manner of harassment from people on their behalf?
Those playing in Europe will even prefer to lodge in hotels and host the same Gboko boys that use to call them prostitutes in a drinking buffet at choice spots, What an irony?
I recall in the year 2004, these young girls went to the house of Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy, pushed his wife and left her her half naked with a one year old baby in her back and took his wheelchair away.
The wheelchair was kept in Sandra Chiichii’s house for over one year and this man kept quite and continued running the system without raising an eye-brow. This was very shameful but the girls did not see the shamefulness and abominable act they did in their widest imagination.
As I am mentioning it today, some may feel ashamed now and some may even give their good defence for doing that.
They claimed they were angry because someone told them that the then Chairman of Gboko Local Government Council released N400, 000 to Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy.
This man was not disturbed, as the Chief Servant of the Club, he did not say anything about it to anyone. I took it upon myself to appeal to Sandra Chiichii and some players who engineered such a shameful act to release the wheelchair for me to take it quietly. .
Until they finally discovered that no dime was released and that it was the work of mischief makers,they began to feel ashamed and ask me to take the wheelchair back to our leader. Nobody in Gboko knew that such a thing happened, the man did not lose his head.
So, the paddlers of such allegations should come out and tell the whole world the truth.
if you wrongly lie, accuse the man who made personal sacrifices to see that you make it in life. God in heaven is not so unjust, He wil surely repay everyone accordingly.
I am not trying to say that Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy does not have his shortcomings, but this is a man who in course of running Invincible Angels FC Gboko is still owing transporters, hoteliers, restaurants, for services rendered for the club. The people being owed are patient with him because they know that each time the state government gives the club some assistance. We try to pay a little and that is how sacrificial this man is.
Ndidi Ogbonna, an Ibo player who was part of Invincible Angels FC Gboko from 2007-2012 willingly took this man’s first son to Aba, Abia State to be trained by her parents when the boy was just 7 years old in 2008. Today the boy is no longer a boy but a man at 21 years. How many of you Benue girls can do this or have done this kind of a thing?
Let me shock you a little, it was only Francisca Ordega who on her part too paid the school fees of Apostle Chur Jr MichaelRandy’s daughter from Primary 1-6, the little girl is in SS2 class now.
I would have been cautious or silent but silent sometimes means admission.
So these girls have provoked me and I swear never to forgive any one of them who started this falsehood,none of us is going to beg for grumps at your table. I still want to say it here that we are too big for you to think that if you come to Gboko and lodge in a hotel that you expect us to come looking for you or when you are sitting with your friends at drinking spots, we should come looking for you? You lie, capital “LIE”my dear.
” No matter how tall the Okro tree grows, the owner must bend it to pluck it”. Don’t forget, little things are little things and out of little things comes something great. That is who we are.
My advice to you is to copy what other players are doing to their former clubd in other places both male and female, don’t be like some other Gboko players who after playing football at the highest level comes back to be playing local football (aya-ikyegh or jeun jeun) in the villages.
What we have done today is that we have tried to follow what Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto said, “If you want to harvest so quickly, plant maize, if you want to harvest mid-term plant oranges but if you want to harvest for a long time, train a human being” .
We have sacrificed our comfort for you but, stop trying to destroy the bridge that you used to crossover in life.
May God have mercy on all of us, Amen.