He needs little introduction. His name is synonymous with Sports in Nigeria. You cannot be a sports enthusiast in Nigeria and not be familiar with the name Godwin Enakhena. This brilliant gentleman has built for himself an enviable career in sports journalism that has spanned well over two decades. Godwin is the Chief Executive Officer at Global Media, an outfit that engages largely in sports marketing, production and broadcast of sports programmes on television and radio. An intensely passionate lover of football, Godwin’s strength as a sports presenter on television and radio is perhaps his uncanny ability to be as real and as natural as possible both in his presentation and expression of his thoughts and positions on issues. And the fact that he is an absolutely articulate personality makes the job so very easy for him to deliver. But in the last few years, his profile grew even bigger after he undertook the massive responsibility to direct the operations of MFM FC as its chairman. And it was a union sealed in heaven as Godwin Enakhena worked his socks off to make MFM FC the most followed and adored team in the land. In only its second season in the league, MFM FC lost the league title on the very last day and came second in the league, a feat considered unprecedented. Under his watch, MFM FC qualified for continental competitions such as the CAF competition. Today, he is the Sports Director at MFM, a position that saddles him with the responsibility to oversee all sports, not just football, under MFM worldwide. How did this interesting journey begin? According to him, “I had met Dr. Olukoya in 2006 and we started the Dr. D.K. Olukoya Int’l Youth Football Competition for all MFM branches all over Africa. A team was then formed called MFM FC. We joined the league from the amateur division in 2011 and by 2015, MFM became the first church to play in the NPFL.” Two weeks ago, City People’s Senior Editor, WALE LAWAL, had a chat with the very down-to-earth Godwin Enakhena and he took us through how the journey has been as the sole administrator of sports at MFM worldwide.
How true is the story, sir, that MFM FC is in crisis? We heard that MFM Fc coach, Tony Bulus and his assistant have resigned..
There is no such thing as a crisis in MFM FC. The head coach and assistant were asked to step aside for sometimes due to the poor results since match day 3 and the assistant coach, Olanrewaju Yemi Daniel tendered his resignation in the process.
There are eight coaches in MFM FC and two (Head coach and assistant) were asked to step aside, not sacked but the assistant, Yemi Olanrewaju Daniel resigned in the process, but Tony Bulus did not resign.
Is it correct, sir, to say that the recent export of some of MFM Fc’s brightest talents to Europe has rocked the balance of the team which made the team’s performance to drop in the past months?
No, no, certainly not. Remember we got into the League in the 2015/2016 season and we all remember how we started like a house on fire. And MFM was described as the Leicester city of Nigerian football then. At the end of the day, inexperience, youthful exuberance almost sent us into relegation but we were able to beat the drop by His grace. By the following season, MFM lost the title on the last day, when we played Elkanemi in Maiduguri. The following season which was last year, we were so close and about fourteen games were not played at the end of the day. We were among the top ten. I agree that as we progress, we’re going to lose our best players. They’re going to go. But you have to remember that this is a youth re-positioning agenda and we’ve got a lot of players sitting on the bench waiting for opportunities. We came in as unknowns and we still have a lot of those unknowns waiting to showcase what they’ve got, so, yes, I am sure we have not lost anything. Perhaps we may have lost a little in terms of experienced players, but the coaches are already doing a great job plugging those holes. So, I urge you to watch out for MFM this season. The fans are waiting to watch the team play on its home turf in Agege stadium called the Soccer Temple or the Theatre of Fears for visiting teams as others would prefer to call it. It’s a small compact stadium but we’re ready to go.
As the new season goes on, for a team that lost the title in its second season only by the whiskers, what would be its target and ambition of MFM in terms of winning the title?
You know, I keep saying this, MFM was not set up to be winning trophies. That was not the agenda. It’s about giving the youths the opportunity to showcase what God has given to them. It’s about getting them off the streets, giving them a lifeline and bringing them to God. That was the target. That’s what the G.O. Dr. D.K. Olukoya, a man whose love for children is unprecedented, wants for them. We discovered Stephen Odey, we discovered Sikiru Olatunbosun, we discovered Onuoha, we discovered Chukwuka, that’s the diminutive midfield player, and all of these guys have left. Now, as I speak, we are about to unleash the next super stars. Winning is not all we want. We want to discover the next Segun Odegbami in MFM. And of course, if we have an opportunity to compete and contest, we will do so.
Some of us understand where the G.O. is coming from, the idea is not to profit from the game but get the boys off the streets, but how do you translate this message to the average fans that come out en masse every matchday to watch their darling team win games?
That’s a lovely question. For me, it’s the most challenging aspect of running sports in MFM. Of course, we want to win. I remember in those days, anytime we lose, the fans will say chairman Oshi. The fans want us to win anyhow, either by hook or crook. We try to say to them, this is a church team, it’s not a worldly team. Yes, we’re going to compete as best as we can, but win or lose, we will ensure our fans enjoy good football. We will play football that is pleasing to the eyes. We’ll play sweet Brazilian football. You’re also going to see football without violence at Agege stadium. Every time, I tell the visiting teams at Agege Stadium, listen, you’re going to enjoy beautiful football here. Nobody is going to intimidate you, the ref is not going to cheat you, just go out there and enjoy your game. People castigate me for doing this, but this is what I preach on radio and television and I have to practice what I preach. It’s a big task. I’m scared each time I go to the stadium and I hear, Chairman, we must win today o. But right now, I’ve moved on to the position of Sports Director, there’s a young man who’s managing the football aspect. There’s also the basketball part of it for women, right now, we’re at the very top and it took us just three weeks to achieve that. In the area of wrestling, we’re doing great too. You’ve heard of the story of Odunayo Adegoroye, they call her the dancing wrestler. We’ve got so much in the offing for sports as far as MFM is concerned. We are in this for the long haul. The cost of running the club has been enormous, but the G.O. has said that as the Lord liveth, He will continue to provide the resources.
How did your path with MFM cross? I remember a lot of people, including myself, wondered if the whole association was just a contract thing because many couldn’t understand how a Godwin Enakhena, who many thought was not a firebrand Christian, would pitch tent with a firebrand church like MFM?
It was all a divine arrangement. I left the Catholic Church because of a divine contact with my then boss, Mr. Tope Aribanusi, who’s now a pastor in MFM. He took me to a church in Ejigbo and the first thing I noticed was that people were shaking their heads vigorously and were saying, die, die and I was like what’s going on here? I just joined them because things were not working. And what immediately got my attention was the kind of prayers they were praying. One of the prayer points was addressing what I was going through and that was it. I keyed into it. From Ejigbo, I started worshipping at Agege and then moved to Caaso MFM in Alagbado. The was when I heard that the youths of MFM went to meet the G.O. and said that Godwin Enakhena was attending Caaso and that other churches are playing football and so they can’t have me and not play football. So, in 2006, the G.O. invited me to his office and said young man, how are you? And I said I’m fine. Of course, I was looking forward to seeing a very big man, but here he was, a very simple man. So, he said, “sir, can you be our sports consultant in MFM? We must rescue our youths from destruction and this is urgent because Satan has declared war on them.” And I said with pleasure, sir. Then, he said, sir, how much can we pay you? And I said, sir, I will do it for free. Up till this moment that I’m talking to you, I don’t earn a salary in MFM. I don’t earn allowances. Not because Dr. Olukoya did not offer me, but I said, sir, “I don’t want to collect any money from you, let this be my contribution to the youth repositioning agenda in MFM.” And I started by organizing football competitions among our youths, MFM worldwide. In 2014, we knocked at the door of the league. I had a young man, Pastor David Popoola, he was the one running the sports arm of it. I stayed away. I told him I am a consultant, anytime you need my help, I will be there for you. That was the way it was until 2014 when the man left. He was posted to Dallas. Then, the team manager now wrote my name as the chairman, MFM football club and that was how it started. That was how Godwin became the chairman of the MFM football club. But along the line, we realized that every other sport was dying in MFM. We had abandoned table tennis, basketball. Then, Odunayo Adegoroye called me and said, sir, can we start wrestling in Akure? And I said fine. Football was becoming tasking for me. I almost died. When Ifeanyi Ubah came to Lagos when we were battling regulation, my BP went to over 200. My wife was not happy, she was crying. And I told my G.O. I said, sir, I want to step back as chairman, let me be the one that supervises sports, not this football that wants to take my life. And he said okay. And I keep telling people, maybe if I didn’t leave that position I would’ve been dead by now because the pressure was terrible. We had gotten to a stage where everyone wanted MFM to win. People had begun to gamble and place bets on MFM winning matches and the day we lost at home, area boys took over the stadium and we were banned. Thank God today everything is working fine right now.