The Acting General Manager of Crown Football Club of Ogbomoso (otherwise known as The Ajilete Warriors), Mr. Oyekunle Oyeleye in this interview with INSIGHT SPORTS describes the support extended to the club by the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde as not 100 but 101 per cent. Excerpts:
What is the state of Crown FC today?
Crown FC is in a very stable state and condition today just as every other institution in the state, just as every other football club in the country. We are perfectly alright.
How would you rate the level of support the club receives from the administration of Governor Seyi Makinde?
101percent is the rate because the governor came in with the mindset of service to every category of the people and class in the state. As soon as the governor came on board, he summoned a stakeholders meeting and made his intention known, he asked of the challenges everybody is facing, besides the man is a core professional and therefore he believes in professionalism at handling various matters. Why do I say this? Some people wanted to destabilize the sports sector when Governor Makinde came on board, but they failed in this wise as the sagacious governor nipped this in the bud. The people’s governor stamped his authority and was emphatic that he was not going to disengage young men who are doing their jobs without any fault. Part of the support the club received from this administration is this, we were asked to collate what the club is lacking and that could bring improved results. We did and the governor is looking into it and how best to help.
Considering that you’re one of the longest serving staff members in the club, what can you attribute to the underperforming status of the club?
In no form has the club underperformed in the last 10 years, twice the club has gained promotion to the elite division, at different times we have been champions of the State FA Cup. In the Nigeria Federation Cup we have qualified for the quarterfinals stage, also in 2016 we qualified for the semifinals and controversially lost to FC Ifeanyi Uba, the robbery was challenged at the tribunal and the case got to the appellate section of the Nigeria Football Federation, not because we wanted to reclaim our mandate by force but to serve as deterrent and as a future academic discourse in the history of Nigerian Football. You don’t cheat people because you have the wherewithal. Equally in the league we might not make promotion but are always comfortable on the league log. Currently, the club is placed 2nd with 9 points while Bendel Insurance which is coming to visit the club anytime the league resumes, is placed first with 10 points. Judging from this analysis can you say the club has underperformed?
When the suspended league resumes, do you think the club has what it takes to get promoted to the elite class?
Absolutely, the club has the prospect as I mentioned earlier on, considering the vantage position the club currently occupies, we are the only team in our group that has won complete 3points away; Bendel Insurance that is first with a point ahead of Crown is having 10points, all things being equal, the rest shall be history. We have a technical crew with great zeal for performance and the players are imbued with winning mentality. In terms of motivation, no staffer of the club is owed a dime, life becomes easier with the GSM (Governor Seyi Makinde) day of every 25th. You cannot work anywhere in Nigeria better than Oyo state at this contemporary time. That’s the opinion some groups of people expressed to me recently, they backed up their claims with profound evidences and I marveled, then I looked at it, I was left with no option than to concur. Summing up all these factors, my brother, the club has what it takes to be at the next level come next season.
In what ways does the club contribute to sports and economic development of Ogbomoso and the state in general?
Thank you. Crown FC is contributing to sports activities in so many ways, a lot of people make use of our facilities to keep fit and we have an academy section that takes care of young boys of age grade 13, 15 and 17 at no cost. Again, on the economy, hoteliers are always in the know whenever we are in the active season. A lot of things to keep the club are done by the immediate environment and so many one can’t mention here.
What effort is the club making to attract governments and philanthropists to upgrade or complete the Soun Stadium, the home ground of Crown FC?
The Oyo state government has been doing something on it before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and we were hoping for something on it, but now that that budget has been pruned to accommodate the emergency situation the world finds itself in presently, we will have to wait. But I’m cocksure soon something concrete shall be done on it, because, the Honourable Commissioner for Youths and Sports was on ground last week Wednesday for familirization and assessment tour of the club and he did promise something concrete is coming soon. Again, the club wants to appreciate the Honourable Minister for Youths and Sports and who is an Ambassador of Crown Football Club, Mr. Sunday Dare, he is the only politician of Ogbomoso extract that has done something on the stadium, he deserves a lot of accolades, he promised to do a couple of things on the facilities and he has long begun, we really appreciate his kind gesture, Crown FC wishes him a fruitful tenure of office. We have approached some philanthropists too who have promised to do one thing or the other, we are waiting to hear from them. One thing that is certain is that government alone cannot do it, we need kind-hearted people to back up what the government is doing.
An Ogbomoso politician is the Minister for Sports in the country, Mr. Sunday Dare, whom you just mentioned, how is the club leveraging on that to secure support for the club?
Yes, I just mentioned it, before he even became a Minister he had shown interest in the activities of the club and he is doing his utmost best, there is no doubt the fact that Crown Football Club shall benefit immensely from his person and his office.
What is your goal as the Acting General Manager of the club?
My chief preoccupation is to see the club campaigning next season in the country’s highest league and play at the continental level, then seeing the club becoming the image of club football in Nigeria, though it’s not easy, it involves a lot of hardwork, zeal, support, prayers and luck. Again, I want to see the club becoming self-sufficient and self-sustaining among many other lofty goals. Sincerely, I would love my tenure to be known and remembered as that which took the club to its highest level. The reason is not farfetched, I have been part of the club and I cannot afford to do less, may God shine His luck on me and my colleagues. I really thank my colleagues for their support thus far, I want to charge all of us to do more to achieve our lofty goal together.
All the club’s vehicles are grounded now, how are you coping and how are you intending to overcome this challenge?
Thank you, you are very correct but the solution to the problem is already captured in the first year’s budget of Governor Seyi Makinde administration. The Honourable Commissioner after he inspected the club’s facilities last week as I mentioned promised to intensify effort at acquiring a Coaster bus for the players but in the interim he has approved a Sienna bus for official use. We have to be finding means around the problem pending the time they are solved.
What are you doing at the club level to improve your financial base, so that you won’t have to be looking up to the government for every need?
First we need to recruit quality players and pay their clearance fees, if we do that we have prospect of selling such players to other clubs abroad for good currency, but if you have players without clearing them or have concrete agreements with them, it won’t work out. This is the major way with which clubs do realize good money. If the club is performing well season-in-season-out, sponsors will come. At this juncture meanwhile, let me use this avenue to wishing the performing governor of the state Engr. Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde and his entire cabinet, happy first year anniversary, his imprints in this first year has been awesome, fulfilling and selfless. I must make bold to say that his government is unprecedented in the annals of governance in this state. I wish him more strength and health in the service of his fatherland.