I joined the #Ikwerreman1000 team about two months ago and it had been very revealing working with the group.
The plan looked good and the idea made a lot of sense to me even though at first I did not understand how one person could claim to have watched one thousand football matches across the world. Who does that? Who spends his time watching football and continues to keep count until one thousand?
But by the time you work with China Acheru, you begin to realise the kind of person he is- one who keeps to detail and is good at records.
Well, so he has watched one thousand games, so what? I needed to know what was the significance and why the whole world had to stand still for him and when I started attending meetings, I began to understand what he/they were doing.
The plan was not just to tell the world that he had watched one thousand games, but it was to get the attention of the coming generation. It was about talking to them to invest in record keeping; it was about telling them that they could be the best at what they do, in spite of what that it, and it was about preaching to them about the Nigerian League and Nigerian football which was basically what #Ikwerreman1000 was about.
On March 26, we visited the CITA International School at Igbo Etche on the outskirts of Port Harcourt and the time with the kids was very interesting and revealing.
After the warm reception from the school, the students were quite composed and though it seemed obvious they did not know why we were visiting, they weren’t disappointed when China Acheru started his interaction with them.
He tried to create the awareness in them that they could be the best at what they wanted to be in life and he continued to stress that they could be doctors, lawyers, engineers or even brick layers, but they must strive to be the best at whatever they set to do in life.
He told them about record keeping and how important it was.
“If I didn’t keep records I wont be celebrating #Ikwerreman1000 today and no one will be talking about me and I would not have been standing here addressing you too,” China Acheru told the kids.
Finally, he told them about why they should begin to watch Nigerian sports teams play.
While chitchatting with the students about recent games, one of which was Chelsea’s loss to Barcelona, he suddenly popped up a biggest question of that day to the students.
I actually lost balanced where I stood. And the question went like this….. “Who can mention the name of one of Nigeria’s local footballers? (lol)…
And there was a great calm, silence… nobody moved, no body spoke… Hahahahaha……
No body could actually mention any of our local footballers. Not one person.
I got thinking, myself.
The school was an “Aje-butter school” meaning a Private school. Lol… I didn’t expect them to know because they only watch sports channels on DSTV.
To cut the long story short, nobody could. Then, Ikwerre man advised the students to pay attention to local matches.
Government Secondary School Oroworukwo
It was not much different at the Government Secondary School, OroWorukwo the next day, Tuesday, March 27.
Well, it was actually a lot different because it was not as organised as CITA International School.
Here it was rowdy, the children were noisy and unlike the previous school were we were in a cool hall with a projector and Public Address System, in the government school, we had to address the children out there in the sun without the luxury of microphones and speakers.
Wow… The thought that got into me was… Hmm! these children sef… Will they give us listening ears? Because we got to the school just about their closing time.
Just as we asked questions of children of the previous school, we did this time for the them to mention Nigerian Football clubs.
One of the students could mention Enyimba and we all applauded him.
You know…. I didn’t expect them to “fall my hand” as it was a public school *Wink*
They should know better than the private school. Afterwards, we enlightened them on the importance of paying more attention to local matches just the way they pay money to watch international matches, the likes of Chelsea, Barcelona and Arsenal just to mention a few at viewing centers.
We were also at Education Plus International School at the GRA in Port Harcourt.
The school was also accommodating and the students were awesome.
Funny enough, the students didn’t even know organised/ League football existed in Nigeria.
Just as One of the crew of Ikwerreman1000, Ufuoma Egbamuno mentioned Barcelona and Chelsea there were all excited faces in the hall, especially those of the Senior Students.
Why I am worried
In the time I have spent working with the #Ikwerreman1000 team I have begun to understand their mission.
I however believe it will be tough passing a message to a younger generation that they either do not want to hear or do not think it is worth hearing.
If the younger generation do not even know Nigeria has a league, where do you start from?
If we really think interest in the Nigerian League should not die, then we need to visit more schools, make the league more attractive to them and ensure they go out regularly to watch league games.
It may be tough at first, and may need even enforcing it on the kids, but if the football is attractive, I believe they will eventually be hooked on it.
So far… It has been an awesome experience for me.
I couldn’t have known few Nigeria football clubs if I’d not been part of ikwerreman1000 team. I must say it was inspiring and educating and I am happy to be part of #Ikwerreman1000.