By Enitan Obadina
He has had a brilliant beginning, a limiting heart, a career filled with golden goals and the heart to look back and give life all over again.
Former Nigerian international, Kanu Nwankwo has come full circle as a footballer and now he is drawing one more stroke with his latest project, Papilo FC.
“We have to go back to the grassroots, but for me people like us have to come out to make sure we support any league, not only pro league, division3, division 2, division 1 and that’s how we all started before we get into the premiership, so we have to do our best and the federation will do theirs.”
Kanu’s charity took shape after he survived a career threatening heart problem that shattered his world in 1996 but he was able to bounce back and since then, he hasn’t looked back with his heart foundation, providing help for indigent children with heart related problems.
Since the launch, many fans of the former Arsenal, Inter Milan and Ajax star have been wondering when and how he will contribute back to the game that brought him fame and fortune. The qualification of Papilo Fc to the Nigerian national league raised eyebrows, simply because there is only one name attributed to that Moniker Papilo.
“If it’s not Papilo, you will not know the team, if its Papilo, then definitely you will know that Papilo is contributing”.
“It’s a difficult task, but we are still on, we did it in division 3, division 2, division 1 and here we are in the pro league, so I will still do what I am suppose to do, help the young ones build a platform for them but it’s a huge task, so we are trying to reach whoever we can reach to support what we are doing.”
Papilo FC debuted in the 2nd tier of the Nigerian Football league; Nigeria National League (NNL) with a big ambition and a splash on Matchday one in the presence of Kanu Nwankwo, picking a point away from home against AS Racine at the Agege stadium in Lagos.
“This is 3 points we wanted to go home with but somewhere, somehow it happened and that’s football, but it’s a good game, at least everybody enjoyed it, the referee did their best, you can see on the stands, you see a lot of people who left whatever they were doing and they are here to support this. This what we have to do, we need more people to come out and watch games like this”
Coach of the team, Uzor Obinna is a big example of going to the grassroots to develop the raw talents inherent as he graduated from being a player of Papilo FC to the coach after his career ended. Uzor guided Papilo FC to the NNL from the third tier Amateur league, earning promotion, year in year out with the support of Kanu Nwankwo’s beautiful heart, a gift to football.