Gov. Ugwuanyi’s support for Rangers will take the team to greater heights — Prince Oduah

By Victor Enyinnaya, Lagos on September 9, 2016

Prince Isidore Oduah is not a new name in Nigerian sports and football in particular. He has paid his dues as veteran administrator and philanthropist.

He served in Lagos State Football Association when late AIG Ali Idowu was the chairman. He also served in Nigeria Football Association when late Sunday Dankaro was the chairman, Athletics Federation of Nigeria as Director of Finance, Marketing and Promotion; led Nigerian delegation to Ghana for the Four Nation Athletics Champ 1997; Anambra State Sports Council; Anambra State Football Association as Vice Chairman. He served the 1995 botched U-20 hosting with Alhaji Yusuf Ali as Chairman; He was in charge of VIPs during the Nigeria 1999 U-20 tournament.

He served as a member, Rangers Marketing Committee; He headed numerous delegations for Rangers International continental matches as member of NFA and a founding member and Financial Secretary of Association of Sports Veterans Nigeria.

In this no-hold- barred interview with Daily Sports Managing EditorVICTOR ENYINNAYA, he goes down memory lane, bringing to bare, his vast administrative experience in the game, his Rangers International FC days as Patron, leader of delegation and sundry . . .  Enjoy!

Daily Sports: As one of those that followed and played leading roles to make Rangers International great during the era of Chief Jim Nwobodo as Chairman and then Governor of old Anambra State, how would you assess the team under Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi?

Prince Isidore Oduah: Yes, I did, during Jim’s years as the chairman of the dreaded team, East of the Niger, as well as when he became the Governor of the old Anambra State. We, keen followers of the once all conquering team are aware of the squad’s exploits domestically and continentally. I won’t hurriedly forgot the steadily contribution of my bosom friend and great football administrator, late Eze BSC Nzenwa whose tenure as Rangers chairman witnessed another tremendous transformation for the symbol of Eastern Nigeria.

I must inform you that nothing would adequately measure how glad I am to note the footsteps of Governor Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi of Enugu State towards Rangers International FC. Permit me to go a little beat further to say, what is in a name. It is not coincidence that Ifeanyichukwu Nwobodo looked after Rangers well in the 1980’s and in 2016; Ifeanyichukwu Ugwuanyi has taken up decisively the mantle all over again. I will rather say, ‘well done, His Excellency.’

It would have been too bad if he that l know did not toe the line of Nwobodo whose popularity was anchored on Rangers International FC. Ugwuanyi has started on smart and strong footing despite the harsh and throat choking economic down turn in the country today.

He has crafted his name in prosperity of history as another governor that decides to hold Rangers up. The team is presently doing well under him. I will also warn as veteran administrator that the Governor despite his other equally pressing state duties should not relent in his avowed foresight to make the traditional FC of our people come into the equation of teams to be reckoned with in the land and the continent once again.

Therefore sustenance and close monitoring that would ensure scare funds meant for the steady progress of the team, players and coaches are channeled into such than diversion.

Sir, can you vividly tell the younger generation supporters of the legendary FC, Rangers what their darling side stood for?

First and foremost, Rangers is not for Enugu State alone, rather it was an East Central State squad. The creation of states made Rangers International to fell to the present Enugu State which of course is the political capital of the present South East. I am not a beat surprised that Governor Ugwuanyi is nourishing the team well; the side fully represents the resilient tradition of Ndigbo today. It is one ofor we are holding till date and those that know where I am coming from would eternally appreciate the governor’s efforts so far in times like this.

Let me also use this opportunity to say that I know the Governor too well because both of us served in Anambra State Sports Council when it was headed by Mr. ABC Nwaosisi, a Surveyor. I must recall with nostalgia that it was one of the best and result oriented boards that initiated and implemented developmental programmes for sports in the old Anambra State.

The governor was so much a pillar of intelligence to the board contributing meaningfully to rally the board to high level performance it was expected by the entire populace of then Anambrarians whose appetite and deep sense of keenly following every sport knew no bounds. You must have come to terms now why I said right from the onset that I was not surprise how he has taken up the Rangers International FC enormous challenge.

I have no iota of doubt in my mind that he would spread such to other sports in the state. He is a natural lover of sports not by circumstances, which is the order of the day with most showmanship state governors today. Now that he is in charge in Enugu State, sports generally not only Rangers will excel.

What panacea will you advance for the steady sustenance of Rangers International?

Truly, the terrain is difficult, many projects begging for the attention of the governor. However, be that as it may, it is one journey he has embarked upon that equally touched lives too, His Excellency has to device sustainable ways to ensure this his pet project of injecting life back into Rangers International won’t be dead on arrival. It won’t be like a smoke screen. It must be lasting, to stand the test of time.

Governor Ugwuanyi has solid sports administration background. He is not a loafer or pretender to the scene; therefore, he should bring his charisma to bear to sustain it, because he has all it takes to do so even in worse economic times than this.

I know his capabilities as a go-getter. The governor should not fail to set machinery in motion that would ensure every fund extended for the sustenance of Rangers would properly be accounted for. It meant that men and women of impeccable character would be constituted to form the board of the team. Only the composition of Rangers board which would comprise of stainless eminent persons with solid means of livelihood would make the resuscitation of Rangers be a dream comes through in no distance time. 

Governor Ugwuanyi, I know would ensure that he deepens the method he has mapped out that would adequately sustain the current tempo by providing for the players, technical crew and the backroom staff to avoid any form of distraction.

This is a critical period in the Nigeria Professional Football League and nothing would be left to chance for Rangers International to hold on to its position on the log. It has been a long time Rangers represented Nigeria, if well managed this time, there are indications that the old war horse resurge would hold till the end.

It is my prayer, it happens to Rangers this season. The Governor and the FA have to ensure the team lack nothing this period as any kind of distraction can cause great damage to all the hard work began from the beginning of the season

I remember, as if it was yesterday, when late Eze BSC Nzenwa was chairman of Rangers and I led the delegation as a member of the NFA to play the once formidable Express FC of Uganda in now CAF Champions League. It is one game its memories would be forever because of the  melodrama between me, BSC Nzenwa and the then emperor of Uganda, Idi Amin Dada, who lightheartedly questioned why a young man should be leader of Nigerian delegation to important game like that and promised his Express FC would bully Rangers silly.

Rangers won that game 2-0 though, not on platter of gold. Now, I am ready full of expectations, looking forward to the darling team of the East to finish on brighter and on top note in NPFL this season, to reciprocate Governor Ugwuanyi’s unflinching gesture. The governor, like the team, has Spartan spirit and he is equal to the task.

Let me use this medium to advise the governor that as one of the proactive governors from that side of the country, He should establish Rangers Veterans Forum; Rangers Hall of Fame which will be instituted to honour all those that contributed painstakingly to the formation and growth of Rangers over these years. The Rangers Veteran Forum if initiated will encourage younger Rangers to give in their best giving them the much needed sense of belonging more than ever before. At the end, their labours will not be in vain. It will give platform to all the players that featured for the team. Rangers Veterans Forum will bring life back to most of them that have almost lost touch.  The team is already an institution; it will be the first of its kind in club football in Nigeria even in Africa. We knew what prompted the formation of Rangers shortly after the civil war and the club has not failed its founding fathers dead and alive; the flame is still on even stronger. It has the record of one team that has not gone on relegation since her coming into existence. That in itself is a record. Rangers are also a household name.

As it is now, what will be your candid advice for the Enugu State FA chairman on the Governor’s initiative on Rangers International?

I don’t know who the FA Chairman in Enugu State is, but whoever he is, he should consider himself lucky because he has a governor that knows his onions in sports cum football. My candid advice however, to him and his board is they must ensure they would explore ways to compliment the efforts of this new era His Excellency has evolved to the fullest. The laurel drought that has held Rangers International hostage for many years now would be terminated when the curtain is drawn on the ongoing season.

The must pay special attention not the usual lip service to the grassroots football and explore it as a means to groom new ones.

When the lads are discovered, they need coaches to teach them the tenets of the game, which then will make the theory of sending the old players that have served the state glowingly to the Nigeria Institute for Sports, Lagos for coaching course.

This is one programme the Commissioner of Sports would map out with the State Sports Council and the FA to evolve effective implementation as we do not have to wait until players get injured before they are sent for coaching programmes.

Enugu State has plenty of these retired players and the FA should take over their welfare so they can train the young ones before they are called home by their creator. The FA has to ensure they will impact their vast knowledge of the game to the new generation of budding players. Those that served the state as ex- Rangers players and sundry must not be swept under let them give us the greater tomorrow team. Up Rangers!

•Photo shows Prince Isidore Oduah.

Source Daily Sports

Posted September 9, 2016


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