Birthday Celebration: Former Players, All Stars Honour Outstanding Football Manager, Alhaji Akinsanya With Novelty Match

Kunle Adelabu

-Shower encomiums on him, set to celebrate others

Ademola Ogunneye, team captain, defunct Pepsi (2nd left), Muyiwa, team captain, Greater Tomorrow FC (3rd right), Dr Abiodun Fatai – Abatan (right) presenting a glass portrait to the celebrant, Alhaji Akinsanya (4th left0 and his wife, Alhaja Akinsanya (4th right). With them, Mr Yinka Abiodun (Dacosta), the Chairman, All Stars Football Club (3rd left), Mr Babatunde Fajebe, Secretary, Ikorodu Divisional Football Association (IDFA) and a player (2nd right).

It was indeed a rare occasion which was befitting of the honouree, Alhaji (Chief) Kola Saheed Akinsanya, a prominent sports developer, manager, safety ambassadors, administrator and an icon, as members of his teams and chieftains of the All Stars Football Club trooped out to participate in a novelty match organised in his honour to commemorate his birthday.

The novelty match, which was played at the Police Barracks Playing Ground, Igbogbo Road, Ikorodu, was organized by former members of Greater Tomorrow FC, Pepsi Academy Ikorodu chapter and Akinsanya Babes. The teams  were formed several years ago by Alhaji Akinsanya  and his wife, Alhaja … Akinsanya, and also nurtured them.

The novelty match between Greater Tomorrow FC and Pepsi Academy, which the former used to further proved their dominance over their junior counterparts, ended 2 – 1 in favour of the Greater Tomorrow FC.

It was a rare honour because people are rarely celebrated when they are alive within the football circle. The only time the veterans and others that have contributed immensely to the game are celebrated is when they are dead as attested to by many former players that spoke glowingly about the celebrant.

The former players agreed that the narrative would change henceforth as they will be doing more to recognise those who are deserving with more novelty matches, while they are still alive.

Alhaji Akinsanya and family with the glass frame presented to him by players.
Alhaji Akinsanya, wife and guests in ceremonial handshake with players before the novelty match.

Though, many of those that were nurtured by Alhaji Akinsanya are today Doctorate degree holders, senior government officials at state and local government levels, successful businessmen while others are also doing great in their chosen fields, however, they still showed that they have not lost the skills they were know for during their playing  days as they entertained guests and spectators during the match.

Among former stars that featured in the match on the Greater Tomorrow FC side were Mr Muyiwa Gbolu, the captain of the side, Dr Abiodun Fatai – Abatan (Baresi), Idris Kazeem (Small), Blessing Chibuzor, Dare Yakub,  Afeez Abija, Rufai Adewale (Ele), Dada Apanisile, Bayo Bello, Sunday, Goodie, Lolade, Kabiru, Tobi among others.

Pepsi Academy team, led by Mr Ademola Ogunlewe (Oruma) had players such  as Isa Afinni, Nurudeen Orelesi, Femi Arinde, Olumade Waheed, Saheed Adebayo, Ekine Abatomi, Dada, Dele, Christopher, Chukwuma and three of the Akinsanya’s boys – Shamsideen, Monzor and Barr. Lookman among others.

The first half of the match, which was very entertaining with players on both sides showing their good old skills and understanding of the round leather game, ended  in goalless but the second half, which also lived to its billing, saw the former players renewing their old rivalry and played a bit hard and with more purpose. The Greater Tomorrow FC scored twice to prove that they know the art and science of the game better than their young opponents.

While they were savouring the lead, Afeez Abija, the Greater Tomorrow number one goalkeeper committed a big blunder outside his box by touching the ball, an offense he received a red card for.

After the incident, old Pepsi Academy boys came into the game with Oruma exerting his control in the midfield to take the game away from the Greater Tomorrow FC midfielders who were also doing yeoman’s job.

Their efforts eventually paid off as they found the back of the net with a beautiful goal, a situation  that saw Alhaja Akinsanya who was rooting for them against his husband’s side (Greater Tomorrow FC) jumped up from her seat to applaud the team and also proudly informed the guests that the goal was the best goal of the match.

Elder Wole Adebayo, former State and Divisional Football Associations, who attended the game, described the celebrant as ‘Mr Football’.

“I have known Alhaji Akinsanya long time ago and I always call him ‘Mr Football’.

 “He is very active, committed and dedicated to the development of football.

“It is good to see many of the boys that he nurtured years back coming back today to honour him with this match. I join other elders and veterans of  the  game to congratulate you on your birthday celebration. This is a deserving honour”, he added.

While calling on others to learn from the development, Elder Adebayo also charged that former footballers and administrators need to start celebrating themselves while alive.

Alhaji Akinsanya and wife with guests at the novelty match played in commemoration of his birthday in Ikorodu.
Elders at the police barracks playing ground to honour Alhaji Akinsanya.

Elder Yusuf, also said that the celebrant is experiencing goodness because he contributed immensely to sports development and always do good to others.

He said that the good that Alhaji Akinsanya has done to others is also reflecting on his children.

Mr Yinka Abiodun (Dacosta), the Chairman, All Stars Football Club, described the celebrant as a trailblazer.

“I joined many others today to honour and celebrate you Alhaji Akinsanya. This is a focused man and an administrator per excellence.

“Your legacies will outlived you because they are unforgotten contributions”, he said.

The captain of the Greater Tomorrow, Mr Muyiwa Gbolu (Maino), also commenting on behalf of his colleagues, described the celebrant as a dependable father who assisted many of them while growing and made them what they are today.

“Alhaji is a father, brother, manager and mentor who is very dependable”, he said.

The celebrant, wife and guests in group photograph with the Pepsi team before the match.
Alhaji Akinsanya and wife with members of the Greater Tomorrow.

 “He was not just a team manager to us, but a father and worthy mentor.

“He supported me when I was in school and can never forget him when I am writing the history of my life.

“I congratulate and wish you many more happy returns”.

Prince Ademola Ogunlewe (Oruma), the captain for the Pepsi Academy side, said that the novelty match  has opened a new chapter in the history of football in Ikorodu.

“With this, a new chapter has been opened with the honour that we have accorded Alhaji Akinsanya today. It’s high time that we start to celebrate people who have made great contributions. We don’t have to wait till they are dead”, he said while corroborating Elder Adebayo’s position.

“I can never forget you (Alhaji Akinsanya) because of what you have done for me Sir. I first discovered my football talents with the assistance  of Alhaji Akinsanya and he gave me my first pair of boots.

Alhaji Akinsanya and wife in ceremonial kick – off.
Elders and former players on group photograoh with Alhaji Akinsanya and wife.

“You are a good father who trained us in religion line that we must be good to others. You shall be celebrated for life”, Ademola prayed.

Former players of both teams were joined by former players of Akinsanya Babes, the first female football team in Ikorodu in presenting a giant glass portrait frame to the celebrant.

Also, Elder Muri Saminu, Elder Segun Apata, Alhaji Luqman Shonibare, Veteran Taiwo Oloyede, Olowu, Alowonle, and Buruj were among some of the guests that graced the occasion.

Meanwhile, Alhaji Akinsanya, speaking with THE IMPACT, said that the honour was a big surprise that he will never forget in his life.

“Sincerely, this is a big surprise to me personally and my family. I really appreciate it and will forever remember it because it is a great one”, the celebrant said.

“I really appreciate members of the defunct Greater Tomorrow, Pepsi Academy and Akinsanya Babes that put these together. These are young boys and girls that were under my tutelage several years back and they were great players in their time.

“Today, they are honouring me with this novelty match. It was a great thing that their initiative have brought them back together as well as many ex – internationals, veterans and elders within the the football circle in Ikorodu too.

“I also appreciate my amiable children, family, friends and well – wishers, home and abroad.

“Also, the Chairman, Ikorodu – Oga Development Association (IKODASS), Mr Rotimi Erogbogbo, entire exco members, Tuagaga CDA, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Ikorodu Divisional Police Headquarters and entire officers, for their support and well – wishes.

“Importantly, I thank the Chairman and entire members of the All Stars Football Organisation, Ikorodu, Ikorodu Divisional Football Association (IDFA), Elders’ Forum, Grassroots Sports Development Association.

Alhaji Akinsanya, who retired as a senior Police Officer in 2021, is the Otunba Atuluse of Magbon – Alade, Ibeju Local Government and was recently appointed as the Special Adviser on Security to the Chairman, Ikorodu – Oga Development Association (IKODASS) and Special Adviser, Safety & Security Matters to the Chairman, Ibeju – Lekki LG.

Some of the players with the celebrant and family
Celebrant, Alhaji Akinsanya (middle), wife (3rd left), IDFA BChairman/Match Commissioner, Alhaji Luqman Sonibare (right0, Hon. Niran Adeyemi Wakeup, Deputy Leader, Ikorodu North LCDA (2nd right), Mr Babatunde Fajebe, Secretary, IDFA, Barr. Luqman Akinsanya, founder Pepc Foundation (left) and a guest (2nd left0 before the match.

He formed Akinsanya Babes in1989 and the team later metamorphosed into the Pepsi Academy, Ikorodu Centre, in 1996. He also formed and managed Greater Tomorrow FC and the Ikorodu Tigress FC, the first female football team in Ikorodu.

He was President, Grassroots Sports Development Association, lkorodu, former Vice Chairman, Ikorodu Divisional Football Association and Coordinator, Safety First Initiative.

Akinsanya was appointed member of the Customary Court between August 2015 and October 2020.

He has won many awards among which are Ikorodu Man of the Year Award (Runner – Up), 2006, Best Team Manager, Ikorodu LG Chairman’s Cup, 1993, Ikorodu Female Football Owners Merit award, 1999, Best Coordinator, Pepsi Academy, 2002, 2003 and 2005 and Football Administrator Award of Excellence, IKODASS, 2010, among others.

Celebrant and wife with guests exchanging greetings with players before the match.
Action scene from the match.
Alowonle and others at the novelty match,
During the novelty match between members of the Greater Tomorrow and Pepsi Academy managed by Alhaji Akinsanya.

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