Mon, 01 Jun 2009 Nigeria


By David Meshioye - Lagos, Nigeria


He is the founder of The Synagogue Church Of All Nations, and an unlikely guest on a football pitch. Yet Pastor TB Joshua created a surprise of some sort when he floated a soccer team recently. Complete Sports Saturday's DAVID MESHIOYE in this interview tries to unravel the reason behind this, from the benevolent man of God.

What actually prompted your interest in sports, particularly football?

You know, as a believer, you must use all proper means to help our youths in this country. They are the ones who feel the pain of the poor economy today. It is important to use sports to stop our youths engaging in social vices. If you go to the Niger Delta, it's the youth you will find there. If you look at the rate of robberies in the country today, you will discover it is the youth who spearhead such robberies. If you now move up to our universities, it is the youth that you will find in the secret cults. These are some of the problems faced by our youths today and one of the best ways to help them off the streets is through sports.

I strongly believe the young shall grow. They may not be there today, but the future of this country belongs to them. That is why those of us in the position to uplift them need to use all proper means to help them reach their future goals.

Sports is a vital instrument in nation building, little wonder why so many of our youths are embracing it. My vision is to use sports to draw most of our youth out of satanic hands. Not just football alone – we have other areas like wrestling. I am sure you know about 'Ultimate Commander'. God used me to nurture him in his dream. He is an African Champion with a title belt to his credit.

My main vision of going into sports is to give a future to footballers who are hungry to make a career of the game - without a collection a dime from them, and we thank God we have already started that. We want these players to play football and serve God with their lives. Like our club My People FC, the players are camped here and fed. It is not for any monetary gain, it is all about soul winning through spots.

All I have been telling them is to forget how God brought h them up from the miry clay to become great in their careers. It is not for them to pay us back when they sign a good contract, but to help themselves, their families, the needy, orphans and the less privileged. God has raised footballers to help the widows and become benefactor to those who need their help in future.

Despite being a Christian, your help to the masses cuts across all religions. It has been established that you are from a Muslim background and you've been helping everybody - which seems to have pitched the Christian pastors against you. How would you react to this?

The Bible says, 'Love your neighbour as yourself'. If you love those who love you, you have not done anything. Your neighbour could be your enemy – love him. He might be someone who does not share the same faith with you – love him. It is all about loving one's neighbour irrespective of their colour, religion or race.

In the past we have heard and read about ex-internationals also coming to your church here to find lasting solutions to their injuries. Like Daniel Amokachi, Nwankwo Kanu and others. Sir, can you tell us your experiences with them?

Like I said earlier on, I want to see everybody succeed in their careers and endeavours irrespective of their position as footballers. Their personality does not really matter. All I want to achieve is for people to succeed in their career. This is what I was born for, it is what I am living for and it is what am willing to die for.

What joy do you derive from setting up a football academy, healing players injuries and helping the needy generally?

We will begin to succeed with our lives when the hurt of others matters to us. When we show how much we care for others, when the pain of others become our pains, then our success in life became a thing of priority before God.

Problem solvers are those who show concern for other people's problems. Successful people are simply problem solvers. Whatever our gift is, that is what the Lord will use to bless others through us.

What are your expectations on Nigeria's chances of winning the U-17 World Cup at home?

As a Nigerian, we all agree that it's another chance for us to win the U-17 World Cup again – since we are the host. It is my belief that Nigeria has what it takes to win again. All we have to do is to come together as a nation and work toward the success of whoever is put in charge of the team. It is not the time to criticise the coach or NFF, but to offer useful advice that can make us host a memorable and successful World Cup.

Where do you stand on the issue of hiring a foreign coach for the Super Eagles?

I believe Nigeria is blessed with a large pool of indigenous coaches who are ready to serve in any capacity. But it is important you meet the demands of our local coaches if you want them to perform at optimum level. As for foreign coaches, they have more than enough in terms of material and financial strength and that is why you cannot order them around. That is why they can wake up one morning, pack up their luggage and leave for their country,

If we really want to get the best from our indigenous caches, we must be ready to address their welfare packages by paying them something closer, if not equal of what an expatriate gets. How do you expect multi-millionaire players who earn foreign currency week-in week-out abroad to respect an indigenous coach who is owed salary for 6 months? That's absolutely impossible. How can a servant be greater than his master? It has to be the other way round if we really want the Super Eagles to fly again.

You have been supporting the Super Eagles for years now. Do you think Nigeria will qualify for the South Africa 2010 World Cup?

With God all things are possible – but we have to do the right thing by preparing our team well for every match. But then, we also need prayers to succeed. When you pray, someone needs to say, 'Amen' – but then you cannot pray here and be 100% sure that the man who is standing aloof is saying 'Amen' to your prayers. In all, the Super Eagles needs our support as Nigerians to qualify for the World Cup.

Your academy My People FC has made some progress despite coming on board for just a few months. How far do you want to take these players?

Already we thank God the club is making progress, especially with the calibre of friendly matches played so far. Only recently they lost 3-2 to the Flying Eagles and we see that as taking good strides forward. The creation of My People FC is just one way out of many to empower the youth, giving them the chance to reach the height in their careers, and also to help our national team to compliment their effort. I am advising people all over the world to follow in our footsteps too.

What other success story can you tell our readers about My People FC? We heard Ajax Amsterdam wants some of your players…

To the glory of God, three of our players are currently in Sweden with Bodens BK, and they are not doing badly. Yes, we've had several agents and clubs who wrote to us informing us of their interest and willingness to have some of our players. We are still working hard, and if there is anything we need to do right in ensuring that these players have a great future in football, that we will do without asking anything in return from them.

Thank you for your time sir

It's my pleasure.
David Meshioye - Lagos, Nigeria
SOURCE: Complete Sports, Nigeria - Vol. 5 No. 004 - Saturday May 30

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