Lawal: Youngster using football to fight poverty

By Daily Sports Nigeria on April 17, 2024

Many who go into sports are motivated to better their families, especially in Nigeria, where footballers like Victor Osimhen, who was a hawker before becoming the 2023 African Player of The Year, are inspiring the new generation.

For 15-year-old Yusuf Lawal, the dream to lift his family from poverty is what drives him.

Born and raised in Ibadan, the left-winger tells PUNCH Sports Extra how his football journey began at the age of nine, when he left his religious studies for the field.

“The day I started football, I was supposed to go for Quran classes at the mosque, then one brother was going to the field and I followed him and I went to play football. That same day, I bought boots and started playing football.

“But then, they spoke to me about not attending religious classes, so, I did not go to football training again for about two months. But one day, a guy told me that they train at one school in Amuloko and we would take N50 bike there. So, I went the next day, and started training fully from then,” he said.

Lawal, who completed his secondary school at Favournet College in Ibadan, said his mother did not support him playing football in the beginning.

“My mum did not support me then, but right now, she and my dad both support me with the little they can and they always pray for me,” Lawal said.

Despite his young age, Lawal’s dedication to football has been unwavering, having competed at various competitions, winning two trophies.

“I have won two trophies, I won one for Ona-Ara, our local government last September, when I played for our U-15 side.

“The second one I won for my team this year on February 11 is the Baale Adegboyega Adebayo senior competition in Ibadan and we won on penalties,” he told PUNCH Sports Extra.

The forward told our correspondent he had never felt like quitting, even though it had been quite challenging.

“Football is hard, it is not easy at all, especially for us who are not rich and don’t have a manager.

“It’s not easy to find money for boots and if we finish training, we will start worrying about what we will eat after training. It’s not easy but I have never felt like quitting because I know what it takes. I know that it is not easy to be there but if you can get there, it is sweeter than anything.”

Despite his motivation and love for the game, Lawal has also experienced some tough moments on the pitch and he reveals that his saddest moment was when he suffered a heavy defeat early on in his budding career.

“When I first started playing, in U-13, there was this very painful match, our opponents beat us 7-0 and I even scored an own goal. It was a very sad day for me; that was the last day I played for that team because they relocated. The coach even beat some of us and the way he talked to me pained me, so, it made me very sad,” he said.

Born in 2009, Lawal turned 15 February 10 and his role models are two football stars who have achieved the goals he hopes to achieve.

“My role models are Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe,” he told PUNCH Sports Extra.

Now, he wants to use the game to elevate his family from poverty as he eyes global stardom playing the Beautiful Game.

“My dream is to remove my family from the trenches. I also want to play for Nigeria, I want to wear the green white green, I want to play U-17, U-20 and the Super Eagles and I want to collect trophies and I believe I can break and set records.”

His coach, Babajide Oguntuase, who coaches Nigeria National League club Joy Cometh, has been instrumental in his development as a footballer and he believes the teenager can achieve a lot due to his physical abilities and mental fortitude.

“He is a very good player who is fast and strong. He is also very energetic and I see similarities between him and Bukayo Saka of Arsenal.

“I am very sure he will go far because he is a very determined player and he never backs down from any challenges,” Oguntuase told PUNCH Sports Extra.

As Lawal continues his journey in the world of football, his dreams remain as lofty as ever. With his talent, determination and untiring passion, he will certainly continue to chase his dreams with all his might, with the liberation of his family in mind.







Source Punch Ng

Posted April 17, 2024


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