For MFM FC, a flood of advice amid celebration
Players and officials of MFM FC, the first football club owned by a church to qualify for the elite league of Nigerian football, have been in a party mood since the club secured their admission to the Glo Premier League.
The team, formerly known as Bolowotan FC of Ikorodu, about six weeks ago also became the first Lagos club to qualify to play in the Glo Premier League since the defunct Julius Berger relocated to Abeokuta in 2006.
To celebrate these feats, the management of the club at the weekend organised an awards ceremony to reward the outstanding players and officials, who made their promotion happen.
The event was not an all MFM affair, as the club invited top football officials, including the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, representatives of the League Management Company (LMC) and sports journalists.
To set the ball rolling, Alhaji Toyin Gafaar, the proprietor of the Bolowotan FC, whose club metamorphosed to MFM FC, narrated the circumstances that led to the transfer of ownership, saying it was a divine instruction that has paid off with promotion the Glo Premier league.
Gafaar, a Muslim, shed tears of joy that at last his dream of seeing the club in the elite league has become a reality.
“My decision to give out the club to MFM has been justified. It was a difficult decision for me but I am happy I did without collecting one kobo from the church. I am happy again because I still have three of the boys from Bolowotan in the team and doing very well.
“I had an offer of N16m from a state that wanted the slot but I turned down the offer and went to MFM. When I started hearing that I collected N10 million from the church I laughed because those peddling such rumours did not know me and my vision,” Gafaar said at the event.
Also speaking on the promotion to the elite league, Akinwunmi, who is also the Lagos State FA chairman, admonished the team not to depart from the good qualities that earned them elevation.
Delighted that at last Lagosians would witness topflight football again after over a decade, said, “You should remember that you are a team representing the church. Your behaviour on and off the pitch is very important as you are going to the Glo Premier League next season.”
While also urging the team to embrace technology in the running of the club, Akinwunmi insisted that the Lagos State government would not take over the running of the team from the church.
LMC’s Special Projects Manager, Harry Iwuala, in his message to the club urged its management to start thinking as a business entity now rather than as a CSR arm of the church.
“MFM need to explore the business angle of Premier League rather than the social aspect of it. Big clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona are thriving because they are managed as business. Clubs should be community-based to be able to raise funds.
“It is not necessary for the club to be run alone by the church. Let members of the church be part owner by investing in it. If well managed, they can begin to share in the profit made by the team,” stressed Iwuala, who hinted that with the promotion players are now expected to have proper contracts to avoid some of the problems faced by some teams defaulting in wages.
After Friday’s celebrations came Sunday’s thanksgiving, where members of the church invited the top brass of the NFF to pray and thank God for His mercies.