FEATURE ARTICLE

Friday, August 16, 2019
Nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com
Belgium
CELEBRATING MY GOODFRIEND AND SOCCER MENTOR: JOACHINS OGUGUOMAKWA ARAONU, ALIAS "GORIMAPA"!

y very good friend and soccer mentor, Joachins Oguguomakawa Araonu, who for reasons of brevity will henceforth be referred to as Joachins Oguguo Araonu, was a member the 1977 "Anambra state soccer academicals", that represented Anambra state at the 1977 "National sports festival", in Kaduna state. It was at that festival, he was discovered by the scouts of St. Finbaars college, Lagos, who came to scout for young soccer players. The "academicals", was a precursor team to the "senior soccer" team of each state. In other words, every state, then, presented two soccer teams at the National sports Festival: the "senior team" and the "academicals team". Henry Nwosu, who later became his team mate at St. Finbaars college, was a member of the scouting team that convinced the young, highly talented Anambra-state born player to relocate to Lagos, to St. Finbaars college, to continue with his education.

At St. Finbaars, he was integrated by Coach Malagu, into a highly talented, all-conquering squad that included players, some of whom eventually became national and international stars!

The highly talented 1977 St. Finbaars college team, that won the 1977 Lagos state "Principal's cup competition", and, thus, became the 1977 Lagos state secondary school's champion, included players like: The late Goalkeeper Muri Sanni, of blessed memory; the late Stephen Keshi, of blessed memory; Jones Nseyo; Emeka James; Amaechi Nwogu; Wakilu Oyenuga; Sam Owoh; Skipper Nathaniel Ogedegbe; Henry Nwosu and the late Adedeji Obe, of blessed memory; and of course the other beautiful players, who for reasons of limitations of the human memory cannot be remembered.

The squad was young, talented and in a 4-2-4 soccer style, took Lagos state and by implication the national soccer scene by storm; with their quintessential, free-flowing soccer, with at the heart of the mid-field, the "tactically wiley" Skipper Nathaniel Ogedegbe; the ravagingly offensive front, had Henry Nwosu as impuls and a very thrifty defensive organisation, under leadership of my good friend and soccer mentor: Joachins Oguguo Araonu!

It was a well-oiled team that played good soccer! At the heart of the defence, was Joachins Oguguo Araonu, who was rugged, but clean in his tackles of the opposing strikers. He was a strong defender, who hardly gave any space/quarters to the opposing attackers. Many an offensive move in the territory of St. Finbaars, were stopped by him. Another interesting aspect of his game, was that he usually initiated an attack ( = modern soccer), after dispossessing an opponent of the ball. This was contrary to the norm in those days, when defenders usually kicked or balloned the ball out, after getting the ball from an opponent. In order words, even in the seventies, Joachins Oguguo Araonu, played modern soccer as a defender!

He was also noticed, (and till date), by his clean-shaven appearance, which earned him the nickname of "Gorimapa"!!!

He was a popular school boy soccer player in Lagos! In 1978, he was 'bought over' by the then soccer-loving principal of St. Gregory's college, the late Mr. Anthony Omoera, of blessed memory.

He in time joined up to help wield also an all-conquering soccer team at St. Gregory's college, Lagos. St. Gregory's college team under his leadership, won the 1978, 1979 and 1981, Principal's cup competitions. They were also joint national(Nigerian) champions in 1981, in Owerri, Imo-state.

In the final match at the "National Principal's cup competition", they played out a 1-1 draw, against the hosts, the Holy Ghost college, Owerri, Imo-state. In that final, Joachins Oguguo Araonu, got the equalising goal, with a glancing header, off a well-taken corner kick; after the hosts had gone ahead!

He later on graduated from secondary school boy's soccer to play for some club sides like: Wema Bank FC of Lagos; ACB FC of Lagos and Rangers International Football club of Enugu. He also played for the "Youths sports federation of Nigeria" or "YSFON" !

He was bought by Rangers, as a possible replacement for the then about- to- retire Skipper Christian Chukwu.

His performance at school boy's soccer and club level soccer, caught the attention of national team scouts, who invited him to the Super Eagles team that was preparing for the 1980 Nations' cup tournament, hosted by Nigeria. Unfortunately, at a time he was on the verge of breaking into the squad, an unfortunate knee injury put paid to his ambitions! The disappointment was enormous, but he took it in his stride!

He subsequently relocated to the United States of America, for the proverbial golden fleece. He attended college in the United States and bagged his University degree! He played collegiate soccer for "Clemson University" North Carolina. And was very astounding! Unfortunately for him again, nature ruled otherwise with regards his plans of playing professional soccer in Europe, at the end of his University studies. Another nagging knee injury, put the spanner in the works!

He subsequently retired from the beautiful game. He picked up an employment and also runs a private business. He later raised a beautiful family with his wife Fortunate and they are blessed with three sons.

Yours sincerely encountered him at St. Gregory's college as a young school boy. I had watched out for his arrival as he was my favourite school boy player, based on his exploits at St. Finbaars. One quickly made friends with him and utilised the opportunity to widen my horizon in soccer, through all kinds of probing questions about soccer matches and soccer generally. He helped me a lot in this wise; and even up till this day! One usually consults him on his views on matches, yours sincerely analyses. That is the reason yours sincerely refers to him as my "soccer mentor"! He has never disappointed me in this regard!

On a personal level, he is a very warm and charming personality, with a very large and kind heart! Needless talking about the numerous acts of kindness yours sincerely benefitted from him! A very, very ,very,very goooooood man indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yours sincerely wishes him and his family all the very best in life!!!!!!!!!!!

( He gave me the honour of writing the foreword of my book: "Super Eagles of Nigeria: Pride of Africa", which reference is given below)

Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "EGYPT 2019" !!!!!

https://teespring.com/stores/super-eagles-of-nigeria

The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa", can also be gotten through the author. One can contact the author through : nwokeji.cyril@gmail.com Please note in this case, payment of postage costs will be necessary

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