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LEADERSHIP THROUGH SPORTS: Founder’s Address at the Kick-off of YELI Soccer Tournament


By Dr. Dorothy Jeff-Nnamani (Founder YELI)

I am greatly delighted to do the kick-off of YELI SOCCER TOURNAMENT, a flagship of Youth Entrepreneurship and Leadership Initiative (YELI). YELI is my pet-project that seeks to give back to society through youth entrepreneurship and leadership development. As a sports enthusiast, married to a husband whose love for playing the round leather game is second to none, and mother of 3 boys who are unapologetic soccer fans, I feel elated standing here today.


Looking back, as a child I watched my late father HRH Igwe Chukwuma Nwankwo, Igwe Naezuruoha I of Obinagu Uwani Akpugo, who owned a sport team called Olympic Football Club Enugu displaying the spirit of Sportmanship when his team won or lost a match. I can still remember him telling the coaches and players about team building. He always put in his best business acumen and community leadership ability in scouting, discovering and training of football talents in the then Anambra State. One of the outstanding product of Olympic Football team is Christian Chukwu popularly known as Chairman Chukwu, whose exceptional leadership skills as the captain of our National Team earned Nigeria her first African Nations Cup trophy in 1980. Another significant person is Senator Ken Nnamani who was the senate president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 4th Republic. Agree or disagree, as popular opinions have it, Sen. Ken Nnamani’s leadership ability was the death sentence to the 3rd term ambition of the then Obasanjo regime in the year 2005.

2. In the light of the above and in view of the myriad of leadership challenges facing the nation, YELI Soccer with the theme “Leadership through Sports” is an instrument we are using to train the youths on leadership skills. From available data, there is a strong correlation between leadership and sports.

3. Let me reiterate, like the African celebrated writer Chinua Achebe, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely is a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of her leaders to rise to their responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of leadership”.


The key characteristics, qualities, skills and attributes of a leader are inevitably found in sports. Effective sport men or women must have to display a higher degree of integrity and honesty. They are invariably good communicators, confident in their own ability and exude a positive attitude. Unfortunately these qualities seem to be in short supply in our country.

4. On this note, I want to urge the coaches and players in this tournament to look at the skills and qualities that helped you to build a team of your best players on merit, and apply them to the way you lead in your family, community, church, business and offices. That is the magic formula our country needs; you may be surprised at the result.

5. It is now my pleasure to kick-off this tournament to the glory of God.

Thank You.



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