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The Remo Stars Example -By Patrick Omorodion

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When you have a brainwave, that is suddenly an idea floods your mind and you have faith that you can achieve it and work hard at it, you will surely achieve the dream resulting from that brainwave.

I believe that is exactly what happened to Kunle Soname, the proprietor of the youngest football club in the Nigeria Premier Football League, NPFL.

As a widely travelled man, especially to Europe and as a man with passion for football, Mr. Soname may have seen how small football clubs around Europe, and in the United Kingdom to be specific, engaged young people, taking them off crime and providing them livelihood.

With that in his mind, sometime in 2004, Mr. Soname took “the initiative of having a grass root football club, mainly as a platform for developmental and recreational activity for the youths of Ketu area of Lagos state”, his resume read.

He engaged the youths of the area consistently in sporting activities and with talents continuously emanating from the grass root competitions, he floated the football club which started out as FC Dender of Lagos.

So for him, from the word go, his passion was creating a room for youth empowerment with great and friendly environment for young Nigerians to channel their energy and talents into something positive and fulfilling.

The outfit’s consistency paid off when in 2010, the club gained promotion into the second tier of Nigerian football, the Nigeria National League (NNL), with its base at the Agege Stadium in Lagos.

From then FC Dender’s fan based surged and with further development in the management of the club, Mr. Soname saw the need for a re-branding and repositioning of the club.

Remo Stars

A re-branding meant that the club needed to have its own base like the neighborhood or community clubs in the UK. And of course it will result in a change of location, change of name and new fan base.

That was how in 2011, the club moved from Lagos to neighboring Ogun State and finally settled down in his home town, Ikenne, a town made famous by one of the greatest politicians ever to come out of Nigeria, late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in Remo Land of Ogun State.

After the change of base to Remo Land, there became a need for name change to reflect its new home and with the club “deemed to be the shining light of Remo Land, it was mandatory that it be called the stars of Remo Land”. And so that was how FC Dender metamorphosed into Remo Stars Sports Club.

Within three years of its promotion into the NNL, Remo Stars caused some stir in the country’s football. First in 2013, it stood toe to toe with Enyimba of Aba in the FA Cup, losing in the round of 32 to the former CAF Champions League kings who were the eventual winners.

To show their performance was no fluke that year, they met Enyimba again in 2014 in the round of 32. With scores at 1-1 in regular and extra time, Remo Stars knocked out the defending Champions in the ensuing penalties.

After six years in the NNL, they gained promotion into the NPFL in the 2015/2016 season under Nduka Ugbade as Chief Coach who didn’t however stay long with them.

Ironically Remo Stars have been relegated twice from the NPFL. This time is their third sojourn in the Elite division. And it shows the strength and professionalism of the club as some clubs relegated before now haven’t been able to return to the NPFL

Mr. Soname once said the philosophy behind the club is not to really make profit but using it as a means for creating jobs for the teeming youths of Nigeria as well as serve as a stepping stone for those  good enough to get lucrative contracts with foreign clubs.

No wonder the club established a great youth academy system which has been able to produce young talented players who now play in Europe.

The club is one of the few in the country that has a stadium of its own as stipulated by the laws establishing the league. The Remo Stars stadium has a capacity for 20,000 spectators.

During the regular season of the just concluded abridged season of the NPFL, they placed second behind Bendel Insurance of Benin with 33 points, one less than the group A leaders and made the cut for the Super Six play-offs.

In the eventual Super Six play-offs to determine the winner, the Ikenne boys placed second behind Enyimba but ahead of the erstwhile defending Champions, Rivers United of Port Harcourt to pick one of the two tickets for the 2023/2024 CAF Champions League competition.

And to show appreciation to the players and management of the club, their elated proprietor, Soname

announced a N28 million reward for them with the players getting N20 million for themselves.

The sum of N5 million went to the technical crew and medical team while the media team and supporters club got a gift N1.5 million each.

The professional management of the team with the quality of the players in the is already showing in their rating among the 20 clubs campaigning in the NPFL as the most valuable as per transfer market value.

According to a survey, they are said to be currently top with a value of N297m. Surprisingly, Plateau United who didn’t make the Super Six play-offs come a close second with N278m, while Rivers United, Enyimba and Shooting Stars follow with N167m, N74m and N74m respectively.

So as Remo Stars campaign in the 2023/2024 CAF Champions League, there is no doubt that Mr. Soname knows that he needs to beef up the team with experienced players in the weak departments to be able to compete effectively.

Like Remo Stars, Bendel Insurance who picked a Confederation Cup ticket after beating Rangers in the FA Cup need to strengthen their squad especially in the attack department.

This is because, despite leading comfortably in one of the groups during the regular season of the league, they almost lost the top spot to Remo Stars.

The attack which became blunt after the first round of the regular season turned for the worse in the play-offs as they scored goals and conceded five, thus ending up in fifth position.

The continent is a different ball game and therefore the Edo State government needs to support the management of the club so they could get the team ready for the tough task ahead.

The excitement in Benin is electric as football fans are looking forward to another feel of continental matches after over three decades when Bendel Insurance last qualified for a CAF competition.

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