By Jacob Ajom
The atmosphere was electrifying. The dominant colours in and around Ikorodu Town Hall were red and blue, depicting the colours of Ikorodu United Football Club, the newest addition to the Globacom Premier League, Nigeria’s topflight. Not wanting to be outdone, sponsors of the club, cable television network, Gotv draped its banners in every conceivable angle of the hall and its surroundings.
The guest list was predictable as this included a representative of the Oba of Ikorodu. The chairman, League Management Company, Shehu Dikko was represented by the founding chairman of the LMC, Honourable Nduka Irabor, First Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation and Lagos FA Chairman, Seyi Akinwunmi, ex-Nigeria internationals led by former African Footballer of the Year, Victor Ikpeba, Peter Rufai, Waidi Akani, Victor Agali, among others. The media, led by the giant Supersport crew and a large retinue of other electronic and print media representatives were also there.
After a long wait for guests to settle in, activities marking the official launch of the club eventually took off with a ball juggler doing his thing to the delight of guests. It was not a day for long speeches as speaker after speaker made it fast to leave the podium. Vice Chairman of the club, Babatunde Akindele set the ball rolling with his brief but succinct statement of intent. “We are ready to play ball,” he said, and urged fans to come out in their thousands to watch their brand of football when the season commences. He promised good results.
When it was turn for the Adewunmi Ogunsanya, chairman of the club, who doubles as chairman of Multichoice Nigeria, he was overwhelmed. He talked about the dream, the work and those who helped him nurture the dream to reality. He called on the board members to join him on the podium to celebrate the moment.
“Ikorodu United is our testament,” he started, promising, “with Ikorodu United, Nigerians will return to the stands to watch local football. It is a wonderful platform we are giving to the people which will be run as a truly professional football club.”
Honourable Irabor was all too pleased to see a Nigerian clubside so well organised. He said, “Ikorodu United is the closest to the model the LMC have been talking about.- a truly privately owned and run club.”
After the speeches, the club’s official jerseys were unveiled to a loud applause in the hall.
The head coach, a former international, Edema Benson, clad in a lack suit, white shirt and a red tie to match – just like all his players, was all smiles but not unmindful of what is ahead of him and his wards. Yet he was not cowed by the challenge. “We are aware of the challenge ahead of us and I will say without equivocation that we are ready. This is our first season in the top flight but we are not scared of any team as big names don’t play football.” He added that the big boys I te topflight should be ready for a shocker as they have big plan for them. “We want to replicate what Leicester City is doing in England here in Nigeria.”
As role models, Victor Ikpeba and Peter Rufai had words of advice for the players, hammering on discipline, dedication and hard work.
Ikorodu Utd will play their home matches at the Onikan Stadium.