The second edition of the event, an initiative of Sports Management company, Hay Sports, delivered further on its mandate to bridge the wide gap between up and coming footballers, professionals and ex-internationals – and the relevant industries that is relative with the sport.
Ogu, fresh from helping the Nigerian national team to a third-place finish at the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt, talked the participants through his grass to grace story, detailing his experiences with unscrupulous agents, advisors, club administrators and coaches before going ahead to become a winner.
The session was moderated by BBC ace sports journalist, Shina Okeleji, who rolled back the years in Ogu’s career.“I took a risk, letting go my education to play football in Slovenia. It was cold, and tough. About six of us left Nigeria then, it wasn’t easy,” Ogu, responding to Okeleji’s question, told Footballers Connect 2.0 participants.
“Young players should be wary of bad agents, who are only concerned about the money and not the development of the player.”Ogu also revealed how he had to train on his own for a long period and moved in with Super Eagles teammate Ogenyi Onazi in Rome, during the midfielder’s spell at Lazio.
“I had to terminate my contract with Academica in Portugal,” he continued.“Staying in Europe without a team was one of the toughest parts of my career. I moved in with Onazi in Italy, he helped and supported me during these times until I had a chance to move to Israel, it wasn’t the best of offers but I had to get playing again.
“I’m happy today, I came over the period and here I am today.”Urging the youngsters not to allow the focus on the bigger picture and fancy professional footballer life deter them from putting in the hard work, Ogu concluded: “There is time for work and time to enjoy your money.”
Also, Okeleji discussed at length the need to maintain a positive relationship with the media, especially in the age of digital and social media.
Ayodele Thomas, chairman of Football Intermediaries Association of Nigeria presented a paper titled “Human Trafficking in or through Football”, aimed at helping youngsters decipher regular patterns of fraudsters parading themselves as football “agent”, and making known to players that they are to be treated by agent only as investments.
Also, an interactive panel session had the quartet of Okeleji, Thomas, Beverley Agbakoba Onyejianya, Head of Sports at Olisa Agbakoba Legal and Tinubu Akintunde Ahmed, Chairman, Lagos Divisional Football Association, acting as representatives of important and interdependent sectors in football.The aspiring footballers were made familiar to the media, sports law, agency and administration; all of which are believed to help them navigate through to a successful career in football.