It seemed like a great idea: use internet to bring together football players and fans, then inspire and empower them with the opportunities football sport present today. Benson Chukwueke, founder of Inspire Football Life [IFL Network] had been in the football business all his life. He played amateur football and grew up in down town Ajegunle in Lagos Nigeria, where he owned an under aged youth club. Today, he is Sport Marketing practitioner.
The idea came to him long ago while still living in Ajegunle, a shanty town where children with little or no life opportunity had only one hope to get out of the ghetto – football skills.
Their parents are poor. With no food and money to send their wards to school, most of these young lads stay out on the streets playing football morning and evening. And over their years, they’ve developed awesome football skills
Well, Chukwueke discovered that it wasn’t peculiar to Ajegunle alone, but in most places in Africa and indeed across the world, youth passion for football can be the only hope to getting them and their families out of poverty.
With the rate of unemployment in places like Nigeria, Chukwueke knows what the alternative would be. Without football, most of these lads may take to vices. “I have to give them hope, I have to keep fanning their passion for the game and find a way to empower them financially and most importantly, getting them to give their lives to Christ.” says Chukwueke. The IFL Network is become a great football outreach.
He likes to stage live football trial camp across Nigeria and get Scouts as well as Agents to attend. He gives these youth real chance to get noticed and possibly selected into top professional clubs around the world.
He doesn’t stop there. His IFL Network has launched into the Goldmine liberty concepts [Gold Cooperative Fund] to help talented footballers raise funds to pay for their travel expenses as they go for trials abroad. Chukwueke believe that getting one player to sign a lucrative contract with a club can alleviate poverty in an extended family unit in Africa. “My vision is to touch lives, fulfill dreams and keeps inspiring the world with football possibilities.” says Chukwueke. So it seemed like a natural cause for him to blog about it online.
At first, the blog – Inspire Football – post articles of ‘grass to grace’ - stories of great footballers who started from the streets, war torn areas, from untold hardship into abundance of wealth and fame.
- Articles of football professionals who broke barriers such as racial and gender discriminations and became successful in life.
- Later, he started posting various kinds of football opportunities from across the world.
Within two years of blogging, several hundreds of grassroots players and fans across Africa signed up IFL Network and the Facebook page. Today, Chukwueke is building the largest football Network, with over 100,000 members actively participating in one of his initiative – ‘take your passion to the bank.’
It sound like a perfect system, but Chukwueke is urgently looking out for sponsors, partners and collaborators from around the world to make these football opportunities count for the youth in Africa