A former team manager and technical adviser of Gabros FC of Nnewi, Udoji United FC of Awka, Niger Tornadoes FC of Minna, Oche Peters, has said in a recent interview with Voicesports’ TERFA ALAGHGA that Nigerian football would be more developed if god fatherism was eliminated. He also spoke on other issues as well. Excerpts:
When did you begin nursing the idea of taking to coaching, as a carrier?
I began nursing the idea right from when I was in my form one in the secondary school at the St Michael’s Secondary School in Aliade, and that name coach came when I was made captain of my class.
Just like that?
Because I am a good organiser and a good follower of the youths but to be sincere to you, I never knew one day, I would be a coach. But it might interest you to know that the St Michael’s secondary school Aliade, had every sports which all the students participated in, on the map of Africa. That is to say, every class had its own football field and the level of training that we received in that school under the watchful eyes of the then principal of the school, the late Mr D.D.Dodo was wonderful and for me particularly, I participated in all the sporting activities such that at a point, I was the best in the game of Discus in the whole secondary schools in Nigeria, and even played handball for Benue state to the extent that I was invited to the national junior handball team in Lagos and that prompted me to going for professional handball to Cameron. And because of my background in sports from the secondary school, it was easier for me to switch over to any other sports that I wanted to and that was why when I went to the National Institute for Sports NIS in Lagos, I read a management course after which I went back again to read a Grade Two coaching course in football.
How and where did you begin your coaching career after obtaining a certificate in coaching?
Before then, I had started as a grassroots coach in Benue state, where I was one of the first coaches that lifted the Governor Cup trophy for Gwer Local Government in the 80’s. I was also the first coach to lift a trophy in handball for the Local Government and that was when I was offered appointment with the local government under Hon Vincent Aondoakaa as the chairman. This development generated a lot of controversies and the reason was that why would they offer employment to a non indigene in Tiv land? After the employment, I was posted to Ado local government as sports secretary/coach and it was from there that I made up my mind to go to the NIS for a coaching course.
How did you find yourself as coach of Nigerdock FC of Lagos?
I went there for my three months industrial attachment from the NIS, and after completing the attachment, they found me competent for the job. That was how I was retained in Nigerdock FC of Lagos, as coach in 1991 and by this time, they were playing in the Professional Division Two League. In fact, I was the youngest coach in the Nigerian League at that time. I stayed there for up to six years and then travelled to Brazil.
Were you the head coach of team?
I was an assistant coach but when I returned from Brazil after obtaining my CAF B Licence certificate from the Brazil Football Academy, I was promoted to the position of the assistant chief coach of the club and worked under senior coaches like, Godfrey Esu, Bernard Ogbe, Kelechi Emeteole, Shaibu Amodu, Osunbor etc.
Where did you go from Nigerdock?
I left for IBB Homers FC of Minna. I worked briefly there and left for Niger Tornadoes FC of Minna and then went to Udoji United FC of Awka. From there I went to Gabros FC of Nnewi(now FC Ifeanyi Uba). It was from there that I left for India to coach Sporting club Degoa
For how long did you coach in India?
I was in India for two league seasons and won the Adidas best coach of the year Award and while I was in India, I came in contact with a Lady by the name Mary Peters whose father owned a second division football club in Switzerland called SC Silion. I stayed there for just a season, when the club went bankrupt and the club was sold to a French man who said if I wanted to remain with the club, I should go and study French language. That was when I left and on my way back to Nigeria in the flight, I met one Mr-Collijn Vejon, who in our discussion, was overwhelmed with my profile and then he connected to a club in South Africa club was not behaving well so I left and returned to Nigeria where I also met Monuru Hassan who struck a deal for me in Egypt and there in Egypt, I established a football academy which I partnered many clubs and trained players in all the positions in the field of play. This included players from Asia as well as the Europe.. I also assisted them technically and they paid us hourly. I was in Egypt until the crisis erupted when I returned to Nigeria and established my FIFA International Academy, and went into consultancy.
You have coached may clubs, but have had any opportunity to handle any club as an administrator?
Yes. Before I left Nigeria, I was the Team Manager and Technical Adviser of Gabros FC of Nnewi, as well as in India and Switzerland. Unlike in Nigeria, abroad you have to combine the two because as a coach, you are supposed to also read management so that it would teach you how to manage the players, the fans and even the management staff. If you are not trained in that aspect, then you are not a complete coach. I did read the management course at the same time with Shaibu Amodu of blessed memory at the NIS and that was why he was a complete coach because those who don’t do it don’t end well.
What coaching certificates do you hold?
I am one of the first coaches that hold a CAF A license certificate which I obtained in Switzerland, I hold a Higher National Diploma HND in sports management and a masters degree in facility management.
With all of this coaching pedigree, what would you say are your achievements?
The records are there. If I say I am going to discus achievements we are not going to end this discussion today. In Benue state today, no club administrator has moved out of the state for greener pastures and achieved like Oche Peters, in both club management and coaching. I have personally used my resources to train Benue indigenes in coaching and management in this country. Some of them include. Benjamin Jude, Andrew Aikhomogbe, Evans Ogenyi, Fabian Ediba, Timothy Tse, Sunday Olofu to mention but a few.
Why did you take to doing that as your priority?
Because if I did not use the knowledge that I have acquired internationally, to impart in the younger ones, the moment I die, it would be gone.
With this harvest of profile, have you had the opportunity of coaching any of the national teams?
I worked briefly with Samson Siasia at the advisory level during the U- 20 world cup in Egypt. And why I have not even thought of that is because I am a coach and manager that does not honour notes from people. Do not force a player on me. If you give me a job, also give me free hands to do it because if I fail sack me and if I succeed, to God be the glory. I tell you 99% of the national coaches take players that are against their wish but there is nothing they can do about it. Players sent to them by politicians and big wigs in the society. But for me, I go purely for the best legs. When I was invited by former governor of Taraba state, Rev Jolly Nyame to come and set Taraba United FC, in 2006, I did announce on air for talented players to avail themselves the opportunity. I did not entertain any note from anybody and that was how I raised a formidable team for that state. I believe in merit and no player anywhere can ever say he gave me gratification before I recruited him in any team that I ever handled. I challenge anyone to come out. I have also handled world cup players like, Friday Elaho, Toyin Ayinla, Ibro Konti etc, who played under me in Nigerdock FC of Lagos.
Of all these players that you have coached, has any of them ever remembered and acknowledged you at all?
Only late Dominic Abiku who slumped and died in Lafia while playing for Kano Pillars against Nasarawa United in Lafia. This is a player that I brought from grass to grace. A boy I took from the grassroots to Taraba United FC, to Kano Pillars while I was assisting them in the background in the CAF championship in 2009. That was the only player that I could beat my chest that acknowledged me. When he was signed for Kano Pillars, he gave me some money but I declined collecting it rather, I told him to go and take care his family.
With this wealth of experience in both coaching and administration, have you ever offered to assist your home team, the Lobi Stars FC at all?
Lobi Stars has a very effective management team led by the Deputy Governor, Engr Benson Abounu and my personal friend, Aondofa Tama and if the management deems me fit to serve in whatever capacity, who am I to say no. I will suspend everything I am doing, to offer my services. It has always been my prayer that Lobi goes beyond the sky because they have what it takes to be there considering the attention the governor, Samuel Ortom is giving the team.
What are your regrets as far as football development in Nigeria is concerned?
God-fatherism has made football to go down the drains. I also want to see that football see the light of day just as it did in 1994. There is no program of the youth at the national level as it used to be. Hardly can you find core grassroots players for the national U -17 team now but ready made players. No headmaster, principal, Ramat etc cups again. Let us go back to the basics and when we do that, we are going to get it right.
Nigerian and foreign coach, which is better for the Super Eagles?
Today, no Nigerian coach has what it takes to coach the Super Eagles because we have refused to upgrade our knowledge by going for refresher courses and if you do not do that how would you coach effectively? Apart from Samson Siasia and the late Stephen Keshi, how many of the coaches got it right while coaching the national team? The gap between the Nigerian coaches and the foreign coaches is too wide.
What about home and foreign based players, who is better?
The gap is also very wide. The foreign based, have all the facilities. They regulate what they eat and drink and are also reserved but the home based, after the game, they club, womanise, smoking all that you can think of. But if we guide them, they will be good materials when they are showcased. That is why I see Gernot Roahr as not a good coach when he was quoted as saying home based players are not Super Eagles. If he claims to be a good coach, he should go to the grassroots and pick players just as Westerhof and Bonfrere did and made impact. For me, I can raise an eleven man squad of grassroots players which can even beat the national team.
What is your philosophy?
I went to a missionary school and you know our way of life is different from those out there so I like sincerity and honesty and as a calm person to the core, I hate liars. I don’t touch anything that does not belong to me. Philip Nongo and I were the first young men to represent Benue state at the national level in sports when we were both in Gwer local government as sports secretary and handball coach respectively so you can see that we are quiet and humble people?