Nigeria’s youngest Team Manager set to take Rangers to greater heights

By Nelson Dafe on February 7, 2016

Views: 3,908

There’s an awe-inspiring development in Nigerian club football at the moment and to glimpse that, one has to look to the east.

No, this is no allusion to some kind of nouveau connection between masonry and Nigerian football. Rather, it is the bold and innovative move of the Enugu State Government in appointing a young and savvy lawyer, 26-year-old Amobi Ezeaku as Team Manager of the legendary Rangers International Football Club.

Ezeaku becomes, at least, Africa’s youngest Team Manager in club football.

If you’re searching for proof that one can combine playing football at a high level with rigorous academic work at the university level, and then follow up that interest in the game after school to become a significant suit at a very significant club, Amobi is an answer.

The lawyer, though, is not giving as much attention to the significance of his getting the job at such a young age as he is to the task ahead. In a chat with me in Benin City where his team are camping ahead of the Nigerian premier league season, he outlined his major plans for Rangers, a club that is unfortunately suffering a long trophy drought.

Amobi says: “To me, (my appointment) is a challenge to do things differently for the advancement of the game and league. As the youngest TM in Nigeria, it means I should be open and welcome ideologies and philosophies that would advance the goals and desires of Rangers... One of the pressing issues bedeviling almost every club in Nigeria is the issue of player’s welfare. As TM of Rangers, we would try as much as possible to seek to better the welfare of the players. In addition to what the State Government provides, we would seek for corporate and individual involvement towards the improvement of the welfare of players.

“Again, we would address the issue of fanship and spectatorship. Fans should be given enough reasons to watch our games and could possibly get incentives from supporting Rangers. The history of Rangers would once again be told.”

Amobi’s love for The Flying Antelopes dates back to his much younger days, from when he says his father was an avid listener to the club's match commentaries on radio, to when he used to grab every literature on the club to read, as few as they were.

“I would go to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium later as an undergraduate in Enugu to watch Rangers play and under Coach Christian Chukwu and Coach Fancy Ewulu (Goalkeeper’s Coach), I was allowed to join Rangers in training. Those little moments with my father and the foundation and origin of Rangers define my undying love for Rangers.”

At the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City during one of Rangers’ training sessions, groups of spectators glanced at Amobi as he walked past the terraces with a green tracksuit on top his blue jean trouser, whispers of admiration visible in their faces. Regularly on the phone, (perhaps a sign of the pressure of his new job) it’s hard at first sight to believe this lanky figure of a young man has had a rich playing career as a goalkeeper. But when Amobi discusses his playing days, I was thrilled by the voluminousness of his football playing experience.

“My playing career was worthwhile and the experience soothing. From my youth team (Emenite FC Nsukka) to playing for St. John Cross Seminary in the All Seminary Games and receiving high commendations with Ezugwu Oforka, who is currently on trials here at Rangers, by the Rector, to playing in the NUGA and West Africa University Games tournaments for University of Nigeria and then getting a chance at the Nation Flying Eagles team under Coaches Manu Garba, Nduka Ugbade and Fancy Ewulu, and later the Dream Team under Coach Samson Siasia, Fatia Amoo and Ngodiga are all moments of great highlights in my career. I also captained the National Team of NYSC chaired by Mr. Emma Attah, the former Coordinator of the Super Eagles of Nigeria

“I am also grateful to all the other  teams that helped build my character in the game - Zafe FC, Enugu; Inter FC, Enugu; UNEC Lions FC, Enugu; The Nigeria Law School Golden Jubilee Set FC 012/013 which I captained; Obilic FC, Enugu and Chioma FC, Eha Alumona (my hometown team).”

With his new appointment, Amobi is steadily building an equally wide football administrative resume. He has been a legal official with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and has also been a legal affairs columnist for Daily Sports, with special focus on players’ contract law, penning several pieces that can help the averagely literate player to understand the intricacies of contracts with clubs.

In an oft-chaotic and unstable setup within football clubs, there are usually issues of job overlap. But Amobi is keen to stress that at Rangers, it won't be laissez-affaire and that everyone must be aware of the specific job he's paid to do. I could see he was leading the way in this regard when I asked if he had come under any intense pressure from any quarters to influence the signing of players in Rangers. “That (players selection) is wholly for the technical crew to decide. I won’t get involved in that. We would always work as a team but we would also adopt a clear policy or system wherein the roles of each official of the team is clearly outlined in writing. Division of labour makes for better goals and greater achievements. Each job has a job description and we all must operate within those bounds. Rangers is a professional club, an institution greater than all of us and not a children’s school football team,” Amobi says.

As the league season nears its start, a lot of eyes would be trained towards the direction of Rangers to see how the team would fare under the youngest manager in the world. If the progress of their pre-season preparations and results are anything to go by, then the signs are good. The team has won all its friendly matches while playing attractively under its chief coach Imama Amakapabo, who is reputed to be an attack-minded coach.

Amobi is keen to conjure the Rangers spirit of the successful years as he rallies everyone involved with the club to give their all this season.

“We would return to winning ways. We would strive to call the Rangers Spirit back. Rangers is a spirit. Rangers is an institution and everyone has to sit up and work to end the major title/trophy drought.”

In the end, Enugu Rangers most important signing of the season may not be that of any player, but of the effervescent young Team Manager Amobi Ezeaku.

•Photo shows Rangers TM Amobi Ezeaku.

Source Daily Sports

Posted February 7, 2016


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