Sulyman Toyin Olokoba is the Chairman, Ilorin East Football Council. In this interview with MIKE ADEYEMI he speaks about his stewardship in sports developments in Kwara State as well as his desire to move Kwara FA to the next level if elected Chairman. Excerpt:
Tell us your antecedents in football management?
Well, if you call me Mr. Sport, I think it’s not an understatement. Because for the past 3 to 4 decades now I have been dealing with sports.
To start with. I was once a board member Kwara United, I once a team manager of NEPA Football Club of Lagos. I have been Vice Chairman, Kwara United, was once SA sports and I have organised so many events in terms of Sports, viz-a-viz boxing tournaments, wrestling, basketball, volleyball and football.
In football for instance, I have organised series of football activities in the state like, Magida Talent Hunts, five aside street soccer – where we discovered so many talents and most of them are playing in various international glare.
As a former Kwara United Chairman, what are your legacies and achievement?
My achievement while at the helms of Kwara United are enormous. I was the first person to constructs an edifice they called Kwara United Secretariat now without one naira from the government.
During my tenure I organised a replica jersey of Kwara United without taking a Kobo from the government. We were able to realise millions of naira from it.
Players’ welfare was then my priority. I ensured that I paid 100 per cent signing fees of my players then when I was SA Sports. The players then called me Mr. 100 per cent, because it has never happened in the history of football in the country.
At the same time, we were able to qualify for the quarter final of challenge cup in the country.
As Chairman, Ilorin East Football Council, how has your position impacted grassroots sports developments of the area?
I was elected the chairman of Ilorin East Football Council about three years ago. Since then, I have ensured I organised grassroots football competition for primary and secondary schools.
It is interesting to note that some of these boys are now playing in Malaysia. I discovered them from primary and junior secondary schools.
Part of the boys I discovered were the one that represented the state at Channels TV football tournaments, they came second at the tournaments.
I organised another one last year, they went to represent Kwara State again and they won the trophy.
Ditto this year. I have organised another soccer competition where about 30 to 40 talents were discovered.
As a leading contestants to the post of Kwara FA chairmanship, if elected, what would you do differently?
You see, what I’m doing all along was a solo effort because of the passion I have for the game.
Two. With all these efforts, you can just imagine if I happen to be the FA chairman in the state.
That means I wouldn’t limit it to Ilorin East alone, but Kwara at large.
If you go to the local government across the state, you will see that talents abounds.
Each time I organise soccer tournaments, I discovered so many talents. Most of them I discovered them from Baruten and Kaiama, and most of them today are playing for ABS and Kwara United. Segun Alebiosu is part of the boys I discovered then.
At the same time, there are lots of them I discovered. The three Gattas are there. Some of them are playing for Enyimba while some are with Wikki Tourists.
The one that I discovered last year is part of ABS that went to Calabar of recent to join U-15 ABS. I’m much delighted that two or three of them were picked.
So, if eventually I’m able to get to the seat of number one football man in the state, I know I will take Kwara football to the next level.
When I was at the helms of affairs at Kwara United, I tried to encourage local participation. I gave my boys and the coaches active participation.
About 80 per cent of my players then are Kwarans, even the coaches. My technical adviser happened to come from Kwara state.
So, I can assure you that if I get the ticket, I will turn around football in Kwara. My antecedents have shown this. There is nobody in the state that has organised grassroots football competition like I have done.
If I know anybody among those of us jostling for the post, that I know had done more than what I had done, I will step down for him.
Are you of the thought that the current school curriculum on sports need to be altered?
The most unfortunate of it all was that, in those days when we were in secondary school, there are lots of boarding facilities.
Now, only two schools here in the state operates boarding houses. During our time, 80 per cent of schools in the state are boarding.
Then, when you close for academic activities, you go to your dormitory, go for your lunch, come back to prep and you do sports. It is a must for every student. But now, nothing like that.
So, the government has to re-visit that system if they want to get sport right from the grassroots. They must start and re-introduce boarding in all our schools.
Recently you staged a chairman’s Cup competition, what is the motive for this?
I want to discover talents, and about 30 to 40 players were discovered.
My mission is just to catch them young. Government alone cannot man sports, individuals and corporate organisations have to come out to support it.