Our exciting football series. continues as Ubong Bassey caught up with Emmanuel Osahon, a coach and administrator for Nigerian Women Premier League (NWPL) team, FC Robo of Lagos. Credited for discovering one of Africa’s biggest exports Asisat Oshoala, he shares his exploits as an ex footballer and his joy of taking girls off the streets and turning them into world beaters.
LM: Let’s get to know you more, shall we?
Osahon: My name is Emmanuel Osahon Orobosa. I am the chief coach and owner of FC Robo of Lagos State. I hail from Mushin Ajina Local Government Area of Lagos State but my root is from Edo State. I was born on 10th July, 1977.
LM: What’s the backstory of FC Robo? The club from a name.
Osahon: To the glory of God, as a one man club it has not been easy but FC Robo started as a soccer academy consisting of boys and girls of all age grade in 1999 at Mushin in Lagos State. The club was formed mainly because of the boys but I was later spurred to create a girls’ team of FC Robo because we win trophies more with the girls. It was managed by five (5) coaches who supervised the club at that time because I was outside the shores of Nigeria.
When we (FC Robo) kicked off our first official training session, some children came to me to ask the name of this club. I looked at them confused, not knowing what to say, I smiled and told them that the club is in God’s hands. That was a SPIRITUAL statement as Robo is coined out of my name, “OROBOSA” in Benin language which means ‘In God’s Hands” …
LM: Your were a former pro for over two decades. Share some of your experience on that trail
Emmanuel Osahon: I played in the Nigerian Football League now the Nigerian Professional Football league (NPFL) for 23 years. In 1984, I started playing football for an amateur team, NNPC FC of Lagos. I moved to Afprint FC of Lagos in 1987, then a year later I moved to Damart FC in Benin Republic. I played for my first professional club in 1990 for Concord FC, then Niger Docks of Lagos (1991 to 1993) and Stationery Stores FC of Lagos (1993).
At Stationery Stores FC, I won the FA Cup and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League as a player. In 1995, I returned to Niger Docks, moved again to VIP FC of Lagos (1996), Niger Docks (1997), El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri (1998), BBC of Gboko (1999) and finally Union Bank of Lagos (2003 to 2009) where I hung my boots.
LM: How daunting a task is it ,of running a women’s football setup?
Emmanuel Osahon: Retiring an ex footballer and immediately starting a football academy is not easy because I had to sell off so many of my landed properties and assets to raise capital to fund my club. I am very passionate about women football and it is my dream to take off so many of these talented women footballers off the street.
LM: FC Robo is storied in successes of their own…
Emmanuel Osahon (pauses and smile): In the past decade, FC Robo have won the Honourable Muiz Banire cup twice, Nathaniel Idowu Cup, Lagos State FA Cup, C. Woerman cup, Lagos State First Lady Cup, two times Champions of Nigerian Women Amateur play offs and the Nigerian Women pro League.
LM: In the 2016/2017 Nigerian Women Premier league (NWPL), FC Robo paraded a very youthful squad as compared with other clubs, can you explain the philosophy behind this?
Emmanuel Osahon: FC Robo is more of a soccer academy than a football club as five of my first team players are about to write their high school leaving certificate exams (WAEC). One player is about to be mobilized for her graduate national service programme (NYSC) while two players are currently in tertiary institutions. Moreso, many of our home fans in the Mushin area of Lagos state always come out in numbers whenever we play because they love watching my talented, youthful players.
Sadly, it is only in Nigeria that coaches use already discovered talents. At FC Robo, I discover young exceptionally talented footballers. When I discover a talent, I visit the player’s’ parents, tell them my intentions of permitting their daughters play football with my club and continue their secondary school education with me. If their daughters are very intelligent, I personally sponsor their tertiary education at the state polytechnics, Laspotech and Yabatech of Lagos State.
I want these young girls to know what they need now is education and it will build them positively for the future. My orientation in life and football is that these girls can be stars and can be useful in every possible way. It is wickedness to see young girls who are talented footballers, (subjected to and preyed by) flirtatious men who take advantage of them and give them money so they can survive. But with football, many of these girls are taken off the streets, have a chance to go to school and use football as a platform to achieve their potential.
LM: It’s been a near perfect start for your club this season, what’s the expectation? Osahon (shakes his head): I pray to God to crown our efforts because promotion does not come from North, South, East or West but only from God. There is a saying in FC Robo, “With God All things are possible” … I want FC Robo to qualify for Super 4 and the FA cup final. I have young quality players and the (top clubs) likes of Rivers Angels and Bayelsa Queens know that so who do I fear?
LM: It was nice having you on LadiesMarch, Thank you for your time.
Osahon: You are welcome!