By Hembafan Kaaga, William Justina, Kingsley Okoh & Adai Josiah
Lobi Stars FC, Benue State Nigeria Professional Football League Soccer outfit’s successful journey in the Nigeria’s topflight started in 1980 in line with the aspirations of the first civilian governor of Benue State, the late Aper Aku.
“That time we played football for passion and interest attached to the lethal game”. These were the submissions of a pioneer member of the dreaded Hawks FC Makurdi, now Lobi Stars FC, Nathan Yebufura narrated to The Voicesports when the club was founded.
According to him, notable football clubs that existed in Benue State before the state was created in 1976 were the dreaded and famous Kwande United FC Adikpo, Juladaco Bees FC Gboko and Gwagwada Lions FC Makurdi and a few others who paraded skillful players.
“I was one of the pioneer players that were drafted to form Hawks FC.”
Others were Andrew Iornongo, Tom Ichul, late Terfa Kpakor, Atume Hanmba, Herbert and his late brother Ambrose Jor, Justin Tenger the first Captain, and Gabriel Akuusu .
“In few years, Hawks won the Benue State Super League and went for the National Play-Offs in Kano and topped the centre winning all their group matches which qualified them for the National Division Three Campaign. Late Ambrose Jor remains the most prolific striker Hawks FC had produced. In one season, he scored 70 goals in 1983 under Coach David Usen who turned around the fortunes of the club with relatively young players in the team’s fold.
Yebufura, a veteran footballer cum tennis coach further informed that, “having been an active footballer before my father who was a police officer was transferred to Benue State, I had already played for team Lagos at the first National Sports Festival in 1973, so the love and interest to further my career was there.
“However, I was employed by the Benue State Sports Council as a Tennis Coach in January 1978 and posted to Gboko Local Government as Zonal Coach. While in Gboko, I played for the defunct Juladaco Bees and Kwande United FC Adikpo before i was deployed to come back and form Hawks FC. I parred in the heart of defence with Christopher Alor, Atumbe Hanmba and Andrew Agu as the wing defender.