As it is with many talent scouts, his wards are better known. But Tonye Ibiama does not mind. It is exactly how he has programmed his life, to provide the engine that can drive ambition and help young people realise their dream.
It is to his eternal credit that the performing talents of the Mr. 2Kay, Tha IBZ, M.Trill and De Indispensables have been nicely packaged for the appreciation of the larger public. From his base in Port Harcourt, Ibiama has stamped his name on the Nigerian scene with his signature platform, Grafton Entertainment. In this interview with Ferdinand Ekechukwu Tonye Ibiama discusses readiness to spread the dragnet of his hunt for youth talents into the sports arena with a new initiative launched in Bonny Island, Rivers State
You have been committed to youth development and empowerment as can be seen from your involvement in grooming young talents in music, now you are doing that with sports, soccer, to be specific; what is your goal?
Talent development and empowerment has been my passion generally as it deals with the creative sector. It makes me happy to see people from oblivion to stardom. I believe it is part of my purpose and I don’t see the sports sector as any different. My goal is same as in the entertainment industry to spot, nurture and expose talents
Is there a link between your previous interest in music and performing arts with sports or is that you are abandoning your investment in the creative industry?
I believe the two sectors are very related as they deal with talents. I am not abandoning any part of my previous investment. It’s the same business, same company. As a matter of fact, sports was my first love as a kid. I played basketball and football as a kid, though basketball was what I took more seriously because the pitch was just in front of my house growing up. So I played up to the state level representing Rivers state at one time.
What shape will your new interest in sports take; will it be an academy or a platform for contest between youth teams?
This will be a platform to engage and spot our talented youths. I give credit to The King of Bonny Island, His Majesty King Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple III, King Perekule the XI and also Nigeria LNG Limited for sponsoring this initiative by the King who was once a player and lover of football.
Will it cover the entire country or it’s restricted to Rivers (and environ?
The Amanyanabo Football Tournament 2019 is currently restricted to Bonny Island, Rivers State but I see its future beyond the Island
Is this a solo venture or do you have support from government and/ or corporate partners?
This venture is being sponsored by Nigeria LNG Limited, Grafton Entertainment are the technical partners. As technical partners, we are working to, not just organise the tournament, but to also create a hub where we can get local and foreign scouts to spot talents
Should a corporate citizen be interested in partnering with you, what kind of working relationship are you looking at?
We are open to ideas and contributions to the growth of our youths in sports and creative sector in Bonny Island. Should a corporate body be interested in the venture, we can always discuss to see how it can be beneficial to the Island and in sync with the current sponsors as long as it fits properly with the values of our sponsors and the my King.