The all conquering Chairman of Iwuanyanwu National FC now Heartland FC of Owerri, Prince Lemmy Akakem “Okpataozuoha”, has made public why he had to take a French leave from what he described as his second life, football management.
The construction mogul who took charge of Spartans FC which later metamorphosed into Iwuanyanwu National that went to win all laurels in the nation and even represented Nigeria at the Olympics, “Seoul 88”, owing to exploits at the African club cup competition edging out Tonnere Calala of Cameroon that also had the legendary George Opng Weah.
Speaking to members of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria SWAN, Imo state chapter when they paid him a courtesy call, the Sports writers Patron said after he revived back to life in Ivory Coast where they narrowly escaped a gory situation orchestrated by their host team, that he was duly advised stay away from the game of football or lose his dear life by his doctor in USA where he went for a medical check up, stating that it even took the intervention of his father who went to Engr Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu to announce his sons exit.
Okpataozuoha further expressed that because of his love for the development of the game especially when it has to do with Imo state that he was operating from home as he handed over the managerial duties to Chief Ignatius Okeahialam.
Recalling how he took charge of Spartans FC after its establishment along side Enyimba FC in the old Imo state from the old Eastern State, he revealed that he hard to first change their appearance to look good like a professionally side by ordering brand new Umbro sports wears from UK as they almost won the league against Rangers but for lack of restraining fence at the Dan Anyiam stadium which he noted prompted Governor Sam Mbakwe (Late) to plead with him to help fence the stadium at the tune of N59,000 that was paid back to him in installment.
“After Rangers played politics on us bringing Anambrarians in lorries back then to cause encroachment which warranted NFA then to move our last game of the league to Calabar where we eventually lost to the Enugu side but picked up WAFU cup ticket.
” We needed to put the perimeter fence around the stadium but the government under Late Mbakwe had no money and he alongside the then sports commissioner, Mr Cajethan Duruji approached me to help fence the arena which I obliged so we can host our WAFU games here in Owerri.
Expressing his non regret committing so much to football development in the state even when the state has failed to properly acknowledged his efforts with honour or street naming, further disclosed to the tourism everyone is currently enjoying in Owerri now was engendered by the exploits of Iwuanyanwu National under his watch as many people from across the nation and the continent trooped to Owerri when ever the club hand engagements which he observed meant that they would need to sleep over either at neighboring states or Town and later sparked the building of Hotels that is today booming in the Capital city of Owerri.
He however took time to remember the fallen heroes of the club, Uche Omale and Uche Ikeogu who lost their lives alongside the pilot and a female cabin crew in that I’ll fated air crash in Tunisia 26 years ago while returning from a continental assignment.
He noted that the club three weeks after the unfortunate incident played another match and wondered why no one recalls such feet that is worthy of entering the Guineas book of record if it were to he one of the European sides.
While congratulating Imo SWAN over their successful election he urged them to remain resolution in their job of ensuring that sports development strives in the state and the nation at large expressing his happiness that he was remembered by the group of persons whom he toiled with in those hey days of National winning laurels, throwing his support for SWAN in the clamour for Heartland to be rejigged.
The crowned Prince who also played a key role in upgrading academic qualifications of most SWAN members promised his unalloyed support for the Imo Sports Commissioner, Hon Dan Ogu in his move to reposition the state owned club.