COPA Coca-Cola: An unforgettable football experience for ‘Oscar’ Akamere
It seemed like a dream for Michael Chukwudi Akamere, the 15-year-old assistant captain of the Niger team in the ongoing 2016 COPA Coca-Cola competition. He walked away a happy camper as Government Model School, Suleja, Niger won the North Western regional finals, which gives them the golden ticket to Lagos for the national championship.
The Victory was indeed hard-fought given that the Niger boys lost their first match to Sokoto boys 0-1, scaled through their second match by beating Kaduna boys 1-0, and trumped the score board by defeating Kebbi boys 7-0.
Fondly called Oscar by his friends and teammates, the energetic speedster with the Number 10 jersey, described his team’s big win as a testament to teamwork, hard work, and tenacity that each player brought to the pitch.
According to Akamere, “this is by far one of the toughest matches my team and I have played in the tournament. We scaled through the grassroots finals and had to battle it out with four other winning teams from other states.
“We were very sad when we were defeated by the Sokoto boys in our first match but we never lost hope. We kept believing that the tide would change in our favour. Hope looked bleak for us in the second match against the Kaduna team but we scored our lifeline goal at the dying minute of the game. This gave us a confidence boost. Coming into the final match of the regional finals, we put our best in and gave ourselves a benchmark of three goals. Our teamwork, hard work, and Consistency paid off because our tenacity in seeing the game through till the end made us the victors 7-0 against Kebbi at the end of the match,” he said
As the eldest of four children, Akamere is motivated to be a shining example of a brother and son his siblings and parents can be proud of. “I have one sister and two younger brothers, all of whom play football. My mum and dad love that I play football and have been looking for ways to sponsor me to learn more of it. They have seen me play several times and were excited that I got the opportunity to participate in COPA Coca-Cola and show my talents. It has been a tough match and my parents are very proud of me for making it to the national finals.”
Born to Patricia Nwafor Akamere, who is a teacher, and Obed Chidiebere Akamere, a driver, Akamere has big plans for his future. “I want to be a footballer when I grow up just like my favourite football star, Messi. I train six days a week, except on Sundays and watch a lot of football matches so I can learn more ways to improve my skills. In a few years, I want to be in Europe playing football at the highest level. I know with time and more trainings, I will be better than I am now.”
Speaking on behalf of the company, Marketing Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria, Cletus Onyebuoha, described the win for Niger State as a tribute to being regarded as the power state of Nigeria.
“The Niger boys have shown sportsmanship and teamwork throughout the competition and their win during the regional finals is truly remarkable. Being from the power state of Nigeria, it is expected that the Niger team will give the other seven teams a run for the title at the national finals.”
Onyebuoha added, “Copa Coca-Cola is a platform which serves as a beacon of hope and confidence for teens to see that they can achieve their dreams, aspirations, and successes in life with hard work and persistence.”