One of the foremost promoters of football in the country, and Founder of Ottasolo Football Academy, Gabriel Davies, popularly known as Ottasolo has said that football is in the class of religion because of the love, and devotion that millions of Nigerians accord it.
Davies, an Ex-Player who played Professional Football in Nigeria and Benin Republic also sid that football is more than a passion, adding that it is also a money-spinning venture for investors.
Speaking to newsmen at the Kwara Hotels on Wednesday, he said that his club has helped many Nigerian youths gain admission into clubs in the elite division in the country, and have also trained footballers from the West Africa region, including Benin republic.
The former player changed his plans after retirement from active football, when he observed that there were huge investment opportunities in the country’s football business.
He noted part of the reasons he went back to football was to make money, which he never really achieved as a player.
‘The initial plan was to assist and empower former players who are unemployed with training and small scale businesses, but proceeded to discovering young boys, mainly from poor homes, who have dreams to make it big in life through football’, he said.
Ottasola who hails from Edo state but raised in Lagos, began scouting for such local football talents and helping them get transfer deals in both Nigeria and Europe where he has strong connections.
“We’ve made profit from transfer deals after months and years of establishing a football club here in Nigeria, unlike the previous years where it was very difficult. And that’s how I am moving,’ he averred.
Ottasolo Int’l Football Club, established by Davies, is currently one of teams in the race for the championship of the Amateur Football League (NLO) in Nigeria this season (2021).
Current Mountain of Fire Ministry Football Club players like, Sikiru Alimi and Ebenezer Odeyemi were products of Ottasolo International FC. They also have players in clubs like Sunshine stars, Rivers United amongst others.
Razaq Omotoyosi, former Benin Republic International who had a successful football career and also the captained of the Benin Republic national team, is an example of such football players who rose from the cradle to stardom through Gabriel Davies, who also had a brief stint as a footballer in Benin Republic.
Another former Player who was exceptional was Muri Ogunbiyi, who was later picked to play for top-flight club Enyimba of Aba FC, a side that had previously paraded local stars like Vincent Enyeama, Dele Aiyenugba, Obinna Nwaneri, Joetex Frimpong, David Tyvkase among others, that went on to record back to back successes in the CAF Champions League between 2003-2004.
Ottasolo, who played for Stationary Stores during his playing days, explained that he’s working on exploring the possibilities of moving players overseas where they can ply their trade in bigger clubs through his proposed partnership with clubs like Malaga of Spain and Benfica in Portugal.
Sparingly funded by the Local Government, grassroots football in Nigeria sometimes suffers a huge setback without corporate sponsors. Yet, for private investors like Gabriel Davies, grassroots football is like a goldmine. It is the cradle of the football stars.
Most of the grassroots football clubs are solely sponsored by private owners. Only a few of them are government-owned.