“Scoring Life’s Goals”
Posted: Mar 01, 2012
I AM WRITING this on Tuesday morning, February 28, 2012, a day ahead of Nigeria’s opening 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Rwanda in Kigali on February 29. I contemplated postponing this column by 24 hours to accommodate my analysis of the game that is effectively Stephen Keshi’s first competitive assignment since his appointment as coach of the Super Eagles. But Soccertalk having just resumed after a long, long break, I decided that it would be unwise to miss my schedule so soon. My perspectives on the Rwanda - Nigeria game will have to wait till next week.
Meanwhile, that gives me an opportunity to quickly re-emphasize a point I made last week about Keshi’s mix of home-based and foreign-based players for the Kigali game. Irrespective of the result, my view is that selections for the Super Eagles should be strictly on performance and NOT where the players are based.
Keshi eventually took an equal number of home boys to Kigali as the foreign-based (11 each way) in his squad of 22. Whether that “quota” will be increased or decreased in future should be determined only by the players’ performances and the peculiar needs of the team at any point in time.
I felt the need to re-emphasize this point quickly because of the overwhelming populist approval that Keshi’s inclusion of so many home-boys has enjoyed particularly in the media. It is a move that I also endorse which once led me to ask the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to consider paying monthly salaries to home-based national team players if that would discourage them from going abroad to sign for pittance, so that we can build a strong team at home. But no matter what you do, the very good ones amongst them will eventually go abroad because of the poor state of our domestic league. Ahmed Musa and Ekigho Ehiosun are just two recent examples.
No matter the result in Kigali, Keshi must not be made to feel like a “traitor” or that he is “changing course” if the need arises for him to review his strategy or alter his selection “quota.” His current approach will simultaneously inspire and motivate the home boys while challenging any big-headed foreign-based player to sit up which is good for competition. But in the final analysis, only the best, from home or abroad, should be selected to play and I think that is fair to all concerned.
Larry Izamoje @ 50
I DIDN’T know Larry Izamoje’s baptismal name until I got to page 132 of his book, “Scoring Life’s Goals,” the Story and Success Tips of LARRY IZAMOJE (Founder, Africa’s First Sports Radio). There, Larry narrated a very interesting encounter with his former employer at the defunct Concord Newspapers, the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola. I will leave you to go find out from the book details of the encounter. But I will give you an “unadulterated report” here that Larry’s real name is Lawrence. Remember, you read it here first!
Larry’s book, “Scoring Life’s Goals” from which I took the title of today’s Soccertalk was presented last Saturday at the Federal Palace Hotel in Lagos where he celebrated his 50th birthday, the 10th anniversary of his radio station Brila FM 88.9 and the award of a doctorate degree in Business Administration by the Business School Lausanne, Switzerland. Remarkable achievements indeed.
As you can imagine, the event was well attended as friends, family and colleagues came out to celebrate one of our own who had made indelible marks in Nigerian, nay African journalism. I was seated at the same table with Segun Odegbami, Godwin Dudu-Orumen, Tony Akiotu, Festus Keyamo, Yomi Bolarinwa (Director General, NBC), Chris Ubosi (Beat FM), Shuaib Gara-Gombe, Modele Sharafa-Yusuf, Taye Ige, Mitchel Obi and, more importantly, Danladi Bako.
Now, I’m giving Danladi a special mention because it was his vision as the then Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) that Nigeria should have specialized radio stations including one for sports. Larry walked in at the right time and Danladi handed over to him the vision, practically dropping gold on Larry’s laps. It was a classic case of “Opportunity meeting Preparation” as motivational speakers would put it. Larry, because of his antecedents as an accomplished sports radio presenter, was eminently prepared for the opportunity.
The high point of Saturday’s event, for me, was when Larry called out Danladi, amongst others, to receive an award of appreciation from the Brila Family. He didn’t keep anything back, showering Danladi with endless praises. Larry said, inter alia: “He (Danladi) is a northerner whom God used to direct me, a southerner. He is a Muslim whom God used to open a way for me, a Christian. Please help me give this man a long, standing ovation.”
As Danladi walked back to our table, you could see the mist in his eyes. The pride, the emotion, the joy of accomplishment. We let him sit before we took our seats again. He was saluted all round.
Larry extended similar appreciation, if not as elaborate, to all those who had been part of the Brila journey. He is the one that the world sees today as a sign of Brila’s success, but he didn’t fail to properly acknowledge all those who had helped him along the way, including his wife, Bridget. I thought that was very honourable of him.
As for Larry himself, what else can I say about his determination, commitment and hard work which have brought him this far. Driving one hour, twenty minutes six days a week from Lagos to Abeokuta to present a 15-minute programme, and back to Lagos for many years is killing, but Larry did it! That is the foundation of his fame, success and rewards that he celebrated last Saturday.
Back to the book, “Scoring Life’s Goals,” I recommend it for everyone, young and old, men and women who want evidence that hard work pays. I have finished reading all 184 pages of it already. It is an “open” book, honest and very engaging with a good dose of Larry’s humour. I noticed that the author couldn’t resist “showing off” a bit, but some would say “if you have it, flaunt it.”
Congrats, Lawrence. Oh, I mean Big Larry!
Fabio Lanipekun @ 70
IT IS A SEASON of landmark birthdays and true identity relevations for famous Nigerian sports journalists as veteran broadcaster Fabio Lanipekun also clocks 70 years on Friday, March 2, 2012.
When Uncle Fabio (that’s what I call him) dropped the information a few months ago that he would be 70 on March 2nd, I assured him I could never forget because it coincided with my wife’s birthday.
(Happy birthday, darling).
Originally, I had planned to interview Fabio for this column but I couldn’t manage it on time. Thankfully, Complete Sports Saturday editor Kazeem Tijani has graciously stepped in and he says Fabio will be the “Star Feature” on our Countdown to the London Olympics this Saturday. Don’t miss it.
In case you’re wondering what Fabio has to say about the Olympics since he’s not an athlete, a pleasant surprise awaits you. I dare say that Fabio is a mobile encyclopedia on Nigeria’s participation at the Olympics and indeed, sports in general. He rarely has to consult any books before telling you how many gold medals Nigeria has won in boxing for example; who won them, the dates, who were the coaches, the chef-de-missions, the sports ministers and probably, whether the Nigerian boxers were in the blue or red corner. Fabio has a great eye for details and an event keen sense of recall.
Before I specialized in print journalism, television sports presentation was my first love. As early as 1982 during my Higher School Certificate (HSC) class, I wanted to be like the late Yinka Craig and I remember that I went to great lengths to get Craig to be my first guest on my first sports television programme sometime in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Fabio was Craig’s colleague but we (Fabio and I) didn’t relate closely until the 2006 World Cup in Germany when we were both on the NTA’s team of analysts for the World Cup coverage.
For the final game between Italy and France, I was paired with Fabio probably because we were considered by the producers as the “best tag-team.” While I prepared by pouring through historical statistics of the two teams, Fabio just sat there looking at me. But when analysis got under way, the Grand-master started reeling off World Cup statistics from the time I wasn’t even born! No wonder the Yorubas say: Omode le l’aso bi agba, sugbon ko le ni akisa bi agba. (A youth may have as many contemporary cloths as an elder, but he couldn’t have as many rags or classic attires).
However, I had the last laugh over Fabio in 2006 because while he backed France to win, I predicted that Italy would be champions. But it was very close because the Italians only won on penalties.
Afterwards, I dropped Fabio at his Surulere home around 11.30pm before heading to my house. That is how our relationship began.
I have found Fabio to be a thoroughbred journalist who insists on the proper practices of the profession and that is why I describe him as a classical journalist. There was a day Complete Sports referred to Nigeria’s former 100 metres champion as Olusoji Adetokunbo Fasuba is a mew story. Fabio called me to say it was wrong since the name by which the athlete is globally recognised was SOJI FASUBA. He insisted that we could only use Fasuba’s full name in a profile or a feature story. Fabio was absolutely correct because unambigous and indentification of the subject is a basic rule of journalistic writing.
On another occasion, we published a list of Nigeria’s former ministers of sports and Fabio immediately called me to say two names were missing from the list. He provided the names with the dates of tenure and we were able to make the correction for Complete Sports readers. Quite often when writing my column, I’ve also had cause to call Fabio to clarify historical information. He always provided it on the spot!
My quarel with Uncle Fabio as he clocks 70 years is that he has not recorded his rich reservoir of professional knowledge and personal experiences in a book form. When I asked him a few years ago, he said he would do it to mark his 70th birthday. Now 70 is here, but the book is not ready.
I called Fabio to register my displeasure and he apologetically replied that the book was “still in the works.” He hopes it will be out by the end of the year and I pray that God will give him the strength to do it for posterity.
Inevitably, I will conclude this tribute with yet another exclusive revelation for Nigerian sports fans. Did you know that “Fabio” is not Fabio’s real name? Well, it is not. His real names are ADESOLA AYINKA LANIPEKUN. “Fabio” is just a nickname and you can find out how he came about it by reading his interview in Complete Sports on Saturday.
Congrats on your 70th anniversary, Adesola Lanipekun. Oh, I meant to say “Fabio Capello!” May your years be longer, amen.
Modele on Fabio
I have never worked directly with Fabio, so I may not be able to describe the type of person that he is or the type of boss that he was at the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) where he was Manager, Sports for many years before he retired from service. But I asked Modele Sharafa-Yusuf who worked with him and this is what she had to say:
“I cut my broadcasting teeth at NTA Ibadan in the late 1980s where Fabio saw me for the first time when he came on a visit to the station. Soon after that he invited me to join the coverage crew of the 1989 National Sports Festival by which time I was nursing a 6-month old baby.
With baby in tow, I came to Lagos and was quickly integrated into the Network Sports team, working 12-hour days! I was quietly impressed by and quickly imbibed Fabio’s culture of hard work and diligence. I was in awe of his knowledge of sports! His firm exterior masked a quick wit and a wry sense of humour that would only manifest after a job he considered well done.
He played as hard as he worked! With a keen eye for details, Fabio hardly missed anything and would point out mistakes and commend diligence in equal measures. Fabio was the quintessential professional and I feel privileged to have been an understudy of this Master. – Modele Sharafa-Yusuf, Ex-NTA Sports broadcaster.
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