I have an unusual relationship with sports media.
I must retell the story for the benefit of thousands of Nigerian children in school (or even out of school) who may be interested in participating in the profession.
It is a beautiful world. In this age of information technology, its reach to admit and involve millions of young people with a passion for sports and journalism is almost unlimited. For those young people who manage to convert their love and passion for sports to work in sports media, they discover that they never really go back to work in their lives because "work" really becomes so fun.
This is my own story in that world.
In the year 2018, summarizing everything and with all modesty, I am very aware that I am considered a successful player in the sports media industry. My work covers the entire spectrum of sports media, from the press to television, radio and even online.
Considering that I have never had formal education or training in any aspect of the media except through my personal experiences and experiments, it should be comforting and reassuring for millions of young people interested in that profession that the path to success in this sector is not full of difficulties or impossibilities! If I could do it, I assure you that you could, even more easily.
So this is my story. It is not a model to emulate, but it can serve as a useful compass to have along the route for determined and passionate youth.
I live the work I do in the media. I have done this for almost 4 decades since I discovered its power to provide food for me and my family. It has been an exceptional and extraordinary voyage of discovery.
To begin with, the fact that you do not have formal qualifications in sports media does not mean that an adequate basis is not required by attending an appropriate institution for a journalist to be successful. That education guarantees greater success and a better anchorage. A formal institution provides the fundamental rudiments of the profession and implements its ethics and principles of good practice.
That aspect has been absent from my own credentials, but, on time and with the continuous work in a field that is still relatively virgin in the country, I have managed to compensate it even though it took the drift without rudder, many times, in the seas hectic of the big industry.
Two great advantages that I knew I had for myself (and that have helped me feel confident and comfortable despite my lack of formal training in journalism) were my experiences in the very game of soccer and the talent I had to write, developed while studying English literature at a large Catholic high school, St. Murumba College, in Jos.
At school, I loved reading books. I read several of the books of William Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Jane Eyre, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, James Hardly Chase and some other great fiction writers of that time.
I became a central member of the editorial team of a gossip campus magazine during my years at the Polytechnic, where I was editor, presenter and illustrator in chief.
All this would be very useful later in my life, when my friend and veteran journalist now, Banji Ogundele, became editor of the Sunday Tribune, a very popular Ibadan newspaper owned by the Awolowo Family.
Banji had moved to Ibadan from Lagos, where we were friends along with other journalists, including Yinka Craig, Dayo Sobowale, Phillip Ebosie, Toyin Makanju, and so on. They were friends that I cultivated during the best years of my playing career, mainly in the national soccer team.
Banji arrived in Ibadan and needed a place to stay for a few weeks while looking for his own accommodation. I offered my humble home. For a few weeks he became part of my young family.
That's when he found tons of literature (magazines and books) on my desk in my living room. He was fascinated and suggested that he write a column for his newspaper, even as an active soccer player.
I took your bait and wrote my first piece. He loved it. I did not even change a word before publishing. Seeing my name printed in one of the most powerful newspapers of the time was all the tonic I needed.
This is how I started writing about soccer. I wrote about my own experiences, the places we went to play, the atmosphere in those places, the other players and our relationships, what we did after the games, and little by little I began to write about my impressions and ideas about the game itself.
It was interesting to write from the heart about subjects close to the hearts of people but never seen from this completely new perspective. It was fascinating to see football strictly from the perspective of a footballer.
Then, what I lacked in style and structure, it compensated for content and literary freedom. Fighting the game and writing was not easy. I could not write about my own games. So I wrote around him. Somehow, I developed a writing style that I have maintained and tried to improve for 4 decades.
About a year after my first column, and with the departure of Banji del Tribune, I was invited to write for Punch and, later, The Guardian. I can not remember why I moved between them, but I did. Writing in these two high profile newspapers said a lot about what was thought of my writing.
Those two publications were my own school of journalism. In 1984, I finally moved to the Sports Souvenir of Sunny Obazu Ojeagbase, the first newspaper of all sports in the history of Nigeria. In 1986, at his invitation, I moved and joined Sunny in Lagos full time. That was my journalism university.
Before I knew it, I was reporting games and other sports, and I went to my first international mission to Scotland for the FIFA U-17 Tournament in 1989. While I was in Scotland I was with the deceased Ernest Okonkwo, Late Tolu Fatoyinbo and the uncle Fabio Lanipekun in the same hotel. Our conversations opened my eyes to new possibilities in other media. These were legends of electronic transmission: Ernest and Tolu on the radio, and Uncle Fabio on television.
My conversation with Uncle Fabio, in particular, and his assurance that I could do well on television were the impetus I needed to venture into that field. The opportunity came when Chris Ebie invited me to present a 4 minute weekly sports segment on The Sunday Showon NTA Channel 10 Lakes by Livi Ajuonuma.
My first attempt after a lot of practice was a good case study for the television journalists in practices on how not to present a television program. I received my own tutorial at work. It was like throwing a swimmer for the first time after the verbal lessons alone, at the deep end of a pool. He would learn fast or he would drown quickly. That week must have been the longest week of my life.
For the second week, it had to be better or it would be considered a failure. My experience in football has always helped me to face any challenge. He taught me that the practice is perfect, and never give up until the final whistle blows.
I must stop here for now.
Deji Tinubu passes on
As I write this, the news came that my "brother" of another mother, Deji Tinubu, who also ventured into sports journalism, more or less like me, died just a few hours ago while playing a novelty in football. Epe made by the government of Lagos State for the members of the Executive Council of the State.
The news is heartbreaking. Deji's wife is my & # 39; sister & # 39; She is former governor, the younger sister of Tunde Fashola. Deji's parents loved me as their own son and made me an unofficial son of his fantastic family. Deji represented himself and the governor of the state of Lagos, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on the tenth anniversary of my school and sports academy last November.
I can not forget the fact that he's gone … before! I join friends and family to pray for consolation for the young wife and children he has left behind.
May he rest peacefully in the bosom of our Creator.