His name is Bashir Bolarinwa. He hails from Omu-Aran, in Irepodun Local Government Area of Kwara state. He is today, the Head Coach of Gaa Akanbi FC, and the Assistant Coach of Injectors FC. Bolarinwa is one of the young notable coaches that are making the difference in the development of the round leather game, and his ambition was to coach at the top level, coach the national teams, and also win the Champions League. He spoke to sportsbash.com.ng on his ambition and challenges as a coach.
How did you graduate from playing to coaching?
It wasn’t an easy transition, but we have to put God first, to put us through. I had garnered experiences during my playing days, and impacting them into the young players makes me happy. I like developing young players. Apart from the experiences I garnered when playing, I did some Online Coaching Courses to update my knowledge. I also have the Football Association of Africa Coaching Certificate, as well as the NNL/NLO Coaching Certificate from the Course organized by Berackiah here in Ilorin.
I stated coaching two years ago. I am presently the Head Coach of Gaa Akanbi Football Club, and the Assistant Coach of Injectors FC of Ilorin. Injectors FC are competing in the NLO II League.
You joined Gaa Akanbi FC when it was an All Stars team, played with them, and carved out a Club out of it. How easy was that?
I joined the All Stars team as a player, and after hanging my boots, I discovered that there was no standing team, except the normal Saturday and Sunday footballing. Again, there was no football team in the whole of Gaa Akanbi, and that was how the plan started.
Gaa Akanbi All Stars is the largest sporting gathering in the hood, with numerous former players, as well as younger players. We decided to make it bigger with the introduction of Gaa Akanbi Football Club. I brought the younger ones together; the ones I know are fit and can play at top level. The All Stars team still exists. Before then, I had organized Gaa Akanbi Football tournament for three consecutive years, on the same pitch.
The challenge of doing that was very tough, but I must thank God, the All Stars team, as well as the players for their support and cooperation. The players are responsible, and always responsive…they accept anything we are able to give them. The All Stars team is also supporting our course. They are always present to watch our matches, and to offer advice where necessary.
How do people see the team, especially in an area where there was no team for a very long time?
At some point, Gaa Akanbi was being known for hooliganism and thuggery. But now, the name, Gaa Akanbi Football Club has really changed that narrative, and the perception. The name of the club has gone far. Coupled with all these, the team plays good football, which most people cherish.
How many competitions have you featured in, and how many trophies have you won?
Since inception up till now, we have played about 11 major competitions in different locations in the state, and we have won seven of them. At this juncture, I must commend the players. They are always ready to face challenges. They call themselves ‘Jagun Jagun” (Warriors). They are always ready for challenges any day anytime, and anywhere.
How do you motivate the players?
We always manage ourselves. I talk to them a lot, because I am very close to them. I have the phone numbers of all the players, and we do chat and talk like brothers. When they are wrong, I tell them, and when they are right too, I do so. That system has been helping me to grow the team. We have two players outside the country playing professional football. Saliu Mohammed is playing in Sudan, with a Second Division side, and Noah Olutekunbi is also playing with a Second Division club in Egypt.
How have you been coping with the running of the team, in terms of finance? Are you the Coach as well as the financier?
I will say yes, and also say no at the same time, because we have been getting help and assistance from some quarters too. We get assistance from those who love the team and football in Gaa Akanbi, and also outside Nigeria. We have someone in the USA that used to help us with funds. He is like a brother to me, and he assists us with funds.
How far do you think you can go in your coaching career?
I really want to go far in this coaching job. I want to coach the national teams, starting with the U-17. I want to coach the U-20 and the Super Eagles, by God’s grace. I always put in for every coaching course that’s available, including Online Coaching, just to update myself. I also have good relationship with top coaches.
How would you describe your team?
It’s a very good team that plays sexy football. We play to entertain, with purposefulness. Tactically, we are good, mentally, we are balanced. Most of the players are from Gaa Akanbi. Those not from Gaa Akanbi are around Gaa Akanbi. We train at Gaa Akanbi Secondary School. (Shaaba). Even though the ground is a bit terrible, we manage it like that, and those that knows where we train are always surprised.
People credit you for creating a team out of All Stars team. How do you see yourself?
I see myself as nobody. I see myself as someone trying to make positive difference anywhere I find myself. Everywhere I go now, they call me Coach of Gaa Akanbi Football Club, and that I think, is enough consolation for me. The team is also a disciplined team.
When you were playing under Coach John Sam Obuh as a player in Kwara United, did you plan to retire early, or even coach at all?
I didn’t plan to retire early from football. Even Coach Obuh was angry that I retired early. I just felt I have played enough, and should just graduate to the next level, and impact the knowledge unto young players. I worked with Coach Obuh, Coach Ali Zubair and Coach Festus Allen, and gained tremendous experience from them, because I have good relationship with them.
I wouldn’t say I don’t regret leaving football at an early stage, because most of my friends and contemporaries are still playing. Some of them are playing in Egypt, Malaysia and Spain. But I am okay with who and what I am now.
What’s your vision as a coach?
My vision is to win the Champions League as a coach. I wish to win AFCON for Nigeria. They look like tall dreams, but they are not beyond what God can do. So, I believe.
Game of football is beautiful, and full of surprises. The round leather game…once it’s bouncing for you, it’s bouncing for you, and once it’s not, it’s not. Just face the reality.
When you were playing football, do you experience pressure from home not to play it?
Yes, there was pressure from my parents not to play football. But that doesn’t account for my early exit from the game. Even when the pressure was much, I was still playing. It’s just a matter of time. My mind just changed towards playing the game. I enjoy support from my family.
I know what football is all about. I played it, and now I am coaching it. I know how painful it is to lose or draw a game, especially when it mattered most, and how joyful it is to win games. I have tasted all, both as a player and now as a coach, and that doesn’t change the philosophy. I believe in playing good football. My players must improve both in playing and in their education.
We encourage ourselves to get education, as education is arguably the best legacy. Education is key, and massive to all other lives aspects. I want to appreciate my players, both in Gaa Akanbi Football Club and Injectors FC. I also want to appreciate my other coaches at Gaa Akanbi Football Club, Coaches Teslim Fatai and Coach Adams. We thank our fans and supporters, especially, Gaa Akanbi All Stars family. I thank you all.