The remembrance of Samuel Okwaraji will be forever celebrated as long as football is loved and enjoyed in Nigeria. Generations coming will always read about him.
Of course, I was a kid when he died on August 12, 1989 while in active service for his fatherland, Nigeria. He was a patriotic soul and the memory of his death will continue to linger on for many years to come.
Much have been written to eulogize the legendary footballer, but on my part I want to address his educational prowess, and his belief in sound education. I remember how arduous it is to pursue a Ph.D. programme; I enrolled for my Doctorate Degree in 2013 but had to drop out after a few months because of the stress and commitment that have to go with it in combination with my career schedule.
Sarcastically, I have said many times that some institutions should just dash me an honorary doctorate degree for my contributions to the society. On a serious note, it was an arduous task!
Kudos to all the Ph.D. holders out there, especially the ones in Nigeria; we know how difficult it is to go through that hurdle, I don’t envy you at all!
Having said that, Okwaraji is dead, but his legacy lives. The legacy that I want to pick from is the fact that, he was an educated footballer which was a rare endeavour in modern day footballers.
Undoubtedly, education is good, it enlightens and guide you through some issues and helps your outlook towards life. It is good to be educated and when you are, you rightfully command respect and can be a good analyst especially for humanity.
This great soccer legend had a university degree, a master’s degree and almost a PhD, at a time when education had value in Nigeria; unfortunately, many of his teammates didn’t’ share his foresight about the value of education in their life after a short football career.
It can never be easy to combine education with football commitments, thus I want to say kudos to the dead, for getting himself educated, and it was a short life worthy of emulation!
If Okwaraji were to be alive today, he surely would have retired from football and gone into something meaningful and not looking up to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to revive his career like some ex-footballers do.
Many ex-internationals have gone broke after their careers, by surrounding themselves with fair-weather friends that misguide and lure them into putting their hard-earned money in showdy business ventures which liquidates. For example, a Super Eagles player once opened a multi-million naira night club that folded up quicker than it started and we heard nothing about it again. There are many other failed businesses attributed to these ex-Internationals.
As a matter of fact, businesses can foldup without adequate research and application especially when an entrepreneur is not educated.
Mary Onyali although a former athlete is duly employed by the National Sports Commission; Segun Odegbami is doing well because he received education; Sunday Oliseh, is another intelligent guy with good writing skills and analytical mind. These are a few of many other educated footballers!
I recently interviewed a top player, and I asked what plan he has for the future, he said, it’s in God’s hands as he is focusing on football now.
I advised him to get an online course, enroll there and to my surprise he is studying an online course in one of the top universities in Europe.
Also, Steven Ukoh, a Nigerian player from Switzerland is playing and studying Law, he once told me that he may likely fall back to sports law.
Finally, my point here is that footballers should get themselves educated. It is never too much, and never too late.
With Okwaraji’s Master’s degree in law, he might have opted to practice law with a big chamber on retirement if he happened to be alive. Rest on Nigeria’s midfield dynamo, Okwaraji!