It was like a dream for Mishael Chukudi 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.
The regional finals which was held in Abuja saw Government Model School, Suleja, emerged winners of the golden ticket to Lagos for the national finals.
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 the needed boost.
Coming into the final match of the regional finals, we put in our best and gave ourselves a benchmark of three goals. Our teamwork, hard work, and consistency paid off as we emerged 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, “I have one sister and two younger brothers, all of whom play football. My mum and dad love that I play football. They had seen me play several times and were excited that I got the opportunity to participate in the COPA Coca-Cola and show my talents. It has been a tough road 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 Chidebere Akamere a driver, Akamere has big plans for his future.
“I want to be a professional footballer just like my favourite football star, Messi. I train six days a week, except on Sundays, and watch lots of football matches so I can learn more to improve my skills.
In a few years I want to be in Europe playing football at the highest level. I know with more effort, I would 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 great.
“The Niger boys showed sportsmanship and teamwork throughout the competition and their win during the regional finals is truly remarkable. Being one of the power house in Nigeria, it is expected that the Niger team would give the other seven teams a run for the title at the national finals.”
Speaking further, Onyebuoha said “Copa Coca-Cola is a platform that serves as a beacon of hope and confidence for teens to achieve their dreams, aspirations, and successes in life with hard work and persistence.”