Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club proprietor and wealthy businessman Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah over the weekend flagged off his 1 Family, 1 Footballer pet project, aimed at encouraging kids across Africa to excel in the round leather game.
The flag-off of the project witnessed thousands of school children being handed footballing kits including boots and balls in the event held at the Ifeanyi Ubah Stadium, Nnewi-Ozubulu at the weekend.
“I am delighted because this is one of the things I’ve been praying for, reaching for a day like this to give back to humanity. We thank God that we are seeing the beginning of the fulfillment,” said the Visioner of the project, Ifeanyi Ubah.
“To me, it is the beginning of a good footballing journey for the kids, towards a successful career and I hope that we will be able to get twenty Messis and twenty Ronaldos in the next ten years,” he added.
The 1 Family, 1 Footballer initiative was initially commissioned in Moscow, Russia for the global audience in mid-July at a ceremony chaired by the CAF President Ahmad Ahmad with the Nigerian High Commissioner to Russia, Prof. Steve Ugbah.
Ubah stressed the importance of leveraging on the platform that the FIFA World Cup offers in providing international recognition for his vision.
“Moscow was a platform for everybody all over the world. We had the superstars, we had FIFA, we had CAF and there were Presidents of many international FAs.
“So, it was a very unique spot for us to launch 1F1F. Now, we are bringing it back home in order to develop our visions from where we move to the rest of Africa.”
As witnessed in the flag-off in Moscow, the One Family, One Footballer (1F1F) initiative has enjoyed a warm reception and endorsements by key footballing and non-footballing figures.
Last weekend’s launch in Nnewi was attended by the South Korean Ambassador to Nigeria, Lee In-tae as well as a representative from the Chinese embassy.
“We are vast in terms of what we do all over. In our group, we engage in a lot of things and we have been able to use our international contacts to key in FIFA using the World Cup platform.
“We will have to extend this scope to Asia and other places and come the 30th of September, we will be in Cairo for the CAF launch.”
What brought the idea
Ubah’s newest initiative he says was borne out of a passionate desire to see the African child receive due attention to help nurture their dreams of becoming global superstars in the near future.
“Looking at us in Africa, we are lagging behind in development and in helping footballers thrive. If you look at the Chinese, they are doing a lot in infrastructure and also buying a lot of players across the world while the Europeans have a sustained system.
“That is why I want to use this programme to build a footballing culture in these young children and combining it with the educational aspect where our partnership with the West Ham Academy will come in.”
Reaching out to Africa
After the successful launch in Ubah’s home town in Nnewi, Anambra state, Eastern Nigeria, the 1F1F project will be launched in other cities across the South East starting with Aba next weekend before a systematic spread to other parts of Nigeria and then Africa.
The African launch has been fixed for September 30 at the Confederation of African Football headquarters in Cairo Egypt and “after that, what we do today in Nnewi will be done in Ghana, Senegal and other parts of Africa.”
Chinelo Onyekachi, a 10-year old Junior Secondary School 1 student of Nnewi High School, Nnewi; one of the thousands of beneficiaries of the programme was grateful for the programme.
“This is the first time in my life that I will be owning a football boot. I am very happy and I want to thank the Visioner of this programme for what he is doing for us. Our teachers are here and my parents are aware so I think they will not stop me from playing football,” said Onyekachi.
Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah’s dream of being the first man in global history to give out one million balls to one million children has just begun.