Friday, May 14, 2010

Owumi: From Goals’ King To Premier League Chief

Over the years, former Nigerian league star, Davidson Owumi, has consistently put his name in the history books of Nigerian football. The Delta-State born footballer-turned-football administrator is one of the few ex-football stars with significant achievements since hanging his boots. His career has revolved around football; a game he loves so much even as an undergraduate at the University of Port Harcourt and later at the University Of Benin. Last Saturday, Owumi entered the history books again by becoming the first ex-league star to emerge as Chairman of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL), replacing Chief Oyuiki Obaseki. In this report,’s OJEIKERE AIKHOJE chronicles the historic feats of the former goal-king. 
First Recorded Highest-Goal Scorer in Nigeria (1985)
His rise to prominence began at Port Harcourt’s oldest club, Sharks. Despite the rigors of the game, he was able to combine it with education as an undergraduate at the University of Port Harcourt.
Incidentally, it was the period in which the league got its first sponsorship deal from Bournvita, a brand from the stables of Cadbury.
To boost the league, Bournvita initiated an award for the league’s best achievers. It was the first time the domestic league would enjoy such sponsorship and opportunity to reward outstanding achievers. Having realised the importance of such an award, all the strikers got busy searching for goals. By the end of the season, Owumi put his name in the history books by becoming the first Nigerian footballer to emerge as Highest Goal Scorer.
As expected, this earned him fame and clubs in the land began a fierce battle for his services. Although he was ready to make his mark in the game, Owumi always remembered his father’s advice not to dump education.
“My father urged me not to ignore education,” Owumi told in a recent interview.
With this in mind, he tasked all the clubs interested in his services to secure an inter-university transfer as a condition for any possible move.
(Flash Flamingoes) Bendel United
One of Nigeria’s most glamorous teams at that time, Flash Flamingoes, eventually agreed to his condition by securing an inter-University transfer for him. As a result, the forward moved to the club owned by pools magnate, Chief Patrick Osakwe (who later became a Senator). Osakwe later disbanded Flash Flamingoes in 1988.
However, the then Bendel State governor, Col. Tunde Ogbeha (who later became a Senator) ensured that Flash Flamingoes did not disappear.
Ogbeha bought the club for the state and renamed it Bendel United. Thus, Owumi was amongst the first set of players for Bendel United.
Enugu Rangers
Although Owumi had a stint at Ranchers Bees, he finally landed at Enugu Rangers, where he ended his football career. His leadership career was noticed by Rangers and so after an illustrious career, he was offered a managerial role.
He started as Welfare Officer of the club. Then he moved ahead as Team Manager. From Team Manager, Owumi’s efforts were again recognized by former Enugu State Governor, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, who made him a Special Adviser on Enugu Rangers Matters.
Eventually, Owumi became the club’s Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O.), the highest position in the club. He also entered the history books as the first Chief Executive of Rangers to operate from the Club House at G.R.A. Enugu.
With a modest budget at Rangers, he was able to keep the likes of Junior Osagie, Sam Ledor, Segun Oluwaniyi, Onyekachi Apam and Nduka Ozokwor from Aba Millionaires, Enyimba, which always wanted to poach the players.
Europe-based stars like Edward Ofere and Nduka Ozokwor are products of the Enugu Rangers nursery which was the brain-child of Owumi.
Another remarkable achievement of Owumi as Enugu Rangers boss was the inauguration of the club’s official website: This became a reality having noticed that the importance of a website to the club cannot be over-emphasized. This made Rangers the only team with a functional website.
First Chairman of Chairmen
Believe it or not, his position as Chairman of Chairmen, has since prepared him for the task ahead. As Rangers boss, he played a significant role in the formation of the Club Owners Association and this led to his emergence as Chairman of the body. Thus, he became Chairman of Chairmen.
This position put him at the helm of affairs of the 36 Professional League Clubs in the country. However, when a new board was constituted for the National Division One League, he retained his position as Chairman of the 20 Premier League Clubs.
His leadership qualities were applauded by other clubs administrators in the land. As a result, when he quit Rangers as Chief Executive, other club administrators urged him to remain as their leader. This only prepared him for the big task ahead.
First Ex-Footballer To Become NPL Chairman (2010)
Owumi’s emergence as Chairman of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) last Saturday is a remarkable achievement. It is the first time that a former league star will become Chairman of the Nigeria Premier League.
From the moment he decided to contest, it was obvious that the job was waiting for him considering his pedigree. Having played the game and later moving up the ladder to become Chief Executive of Enugu Rangers, it is widely believed that he knows the problems of the average Nigerian player.
As such, the players would look up to him to ensure that their welfare is not taken for granted by clubs.
- Culled from

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