By Prof Emmanuel Ojeme
Segun Odegbami, full names, Patrick Olusegun Odegbami is a household name in Nigeria. He has remained in the national limelight which was propelled by his sublime performances as a national team player in football.
Segun Odegbami is a special personality as an international athlete and role model for many Nigerians as he exemplifies the veracity of sports as a tool for upward social mobility by virtue of his lofty achievements in life coming from an optimum football foundation as a young man. Furthermore, Chief Olusegun Odegbami has shown that combining octane level of performance in sports with solid education doubles an athlete’s chances of success in life.
This column finds it extremely valuable to profile the man, Olusegun Odegbami, a leading light in Nigerian Sports and Service to society as a means of saying thank you to this exemplary Nigerian and also perhaps to enable the upcoming younger generation of Nigerian athletes to find meaning and purpose in their own lives.
The subject of our conversation today, an iconic footballer is an Ogun State indigene born on the 27th of August 1952. Surely, a man of my generation. He had his early education growing up in Jos, Plateau State, during which time his football engagement and development took root. He showed early in his secondary school days that he had a lot to offer in the game.
Having left secondary school, he enrolled at The Polytechnic, Ibadan where he obtained the Higher National Diploma in Engineering Technology. During this period, he became a member of the Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan, playing alongside the great Muda Lawal of blessed memory amongst others. He successfully combined his tertiary education with his football career and succeeded in both areas.
Segun Odegbami, popularly known as Sege by his teaming admirers, also earned the nick name, mathematical Odegbami, playing for the Eagles epitomizing his dazzling dribbling skills and precise passes playing from the right wing. At the age 24, playing for the Shooting Stars F.C., the club won the African Cup for cup winners, a trophy next to the CAF Champions League Cup. But significant to mention that the Olusegun Odegbami achievement at the African Winners Cup was the first by any Nigerian club side in 1976.
His generation of footballers which included the likes of Christian Chukwu, Adokie Amaesimaka, Patrick Ekeji, Muda Lawal, Emmanuel Okala, Owolabi Felix did Nigeria proud as it won for Nigeria the first Africa Cup of Nations title in 1980, an event hosted by Nigeria, under the tutelage of the German Coach, Otto Gloria. It is on record that Chief Olusegun Odegbami captained the Green Eagles to the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980. During his illuminous career in Eagles which spanned from 1976 to 1984, he made 46 appearances and scored 23 goals. Indeed he was a valuable team player.
Having retired from active football, Chief Segun Odegbami, charted a course of development that sought to provide opportunities for young people to develop their talents while in school. He established a renowned international sports college at Wasimi in Ogun State.
This school is rated as one of the best sports colleges in Africa with modern sports infrastructure and educational facilities coupled with scholarships and prizes for talented boys and girls. There is no doubt that through this institution, Chief Segun Odegbami has given back so much to the society that gave him the opportunity to actualize his life dreams. He is indeed a highly public spirited Nigerian with a kind heart.
Chief Olusegun Odegbami is a member of the Order of the Niger (MON). He is very humble in spite of his lofty credentials. He has been a public intellectual and columnists of newspapers where he canvasses sports development policies and this is a valuable service voluntarily given to the Nigerian society for the good of sports. His essays on sports are very appetizing to devour.
He carries his public policy advocacy to workshops, Seminars and conferences, radio & television in Nigeria and this writer on many occasions have shared public podium with him and hence had opportunities to listen to him at close range. I found him to be a high octane speaker on sports issues. He stands for best practices in policies for sports development making him to be a very highly valuable asset.
Chief Segun Odegbami, an iconic footballer, school administrator, columnist, public speaker and sports policy advocate has ventured into sports communication, having secured a broadcast licence for Sports Radio in Nigeria. He is a businessman, politician and family man.
In all, he has shown that an elite athlete can also be well educated, succeed in public service, business and family life. Chief Olusegun Odegbami is an icon, amazon and exemplary leader from the world of sports.
Prof Ojeme can be contacted via [email protected]