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Aneke Courage

Aneke Courage- I admire Kevin De Bruyne and would Love to Play like him

These were the exact words of 17 years old Aneke Courage Chikasiemobi, an attacking midfielder who is on trial with FC Centaur, Russia. The enterprising midfielder who was born in Enugu, southeast Nigeria, has always had the dream of being a footballer from childhood. He started playing while he was 10 and has never stopped loving the round leather game.

Humble beginning

“My parents never supported me in the early stage of my football career. I was beaten several times for coming home late from training and for choosing football rather than academics. It was tough back then”. This is a familiar story with most players back in Africa. The awareness has however changed over the last couple of years, as more parents are now encouraging their kids to pursue their dreams.

Cassi, as he is fondly called, started his footballing journey with Dynamos FC of Enugu, Nigeria, before switching over to Star Plus FC Enugu, Nigeria. The 5 ft 7 in tall midfield maestro who had shared his experience of struggling to find a sponsor to help him pursue his football dreams also had challenges with injuries.

Why football?

Cassi who will turn 18 this October, confessed that he had always had a love for the game while growing up. “My desire had always been to get paid for playing the game I love so much. Football gives me Joy and I catch so much fun playing it”

Aneke Courage who can play anywhere in attack except in the left-wing expressed his admiration for Manchester City Attacking Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne. “Kevin De Bruyne is one player I look up to and I hope to play like him someday.

Move to Russia

The dream of every football player is to become a professional and move a step higher in his football career. It wasn’t different for Courage Aneke, who had always nursed the ambition of moving his career a step higher. That dream became a reality early this year January when he stumbled on an Instagram post about FC Centaur. He immediately made contact with them and was sent an invitation to come for trial with the Russian 4th Division side. The club which was founded on April 16th, 2009 is the largest private Club in Russia.

When asked about adapting to life in Russia, Aneke Courage was honest about his experience. Hear what he said: “Adapting to life in Russia wasn’t easy. It was tough, battling with the cold and the language, but I am learning the language gradually and am getting used to training in the cold”. The coaches usually train us using the Russian language. Luckily for me, some of my teammates can speak English and Russia fluently. He has so far played 22 games, scored 6 goals and provided 9 assists for the Moscow based team.

Standard of the Russian League

According to Aneke Courage whose favorite team is Borussia Dortmund of Germany, The standard of the Russian League is not too high compared to the Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga, English Premier League, and the Italian Serie A. The major reason for the low standard of the League is because the majority of the players in almost all the teams are homegrown players. Foreign nationals are not given much opportunity in the Russian League.

Racism in Russia

Russia has always been in the news when it comes to the issue of racism in sports, especially in football. In 2011, fans of Russian Premier League side Lokomotiv Moscow displayed a banner. It was about Nigerian striker Peter Osaze Odemwingie featuring a banana saying ‘Thank you, West Bromwich Albion after the player left to join West Bromwich Albion. Aneke Courage confirmed he had not experienced any form of racism since he’s been on trial with FC Centaur. He however mentioned the attitude of match referees who often made calls against blacks on the field of play.

Aspirations

Aneke Courage who loves listening to music and also praying before crucial games, already has his mind fixed on his next move. “My dream is to move to a professional side in Denmark next year. I believe that with Hard Work, whatsoever you want to achieve in life is possible. Believe in yourself and remember nothing is impossible with God”. When asked if his parents have changed their mind as regards supporting his footballing career? He smiled and answered: “ They support me 100%”.

hope

Hope keeps the heart alive

On November 4, 2008, Senator Barack Obama defeated John McCain to become the 44th President of the United States of America. By that victory, he also became the first African elected to the White House.

Before the election, the young senator wrote the best selling book titled: “The audacity of Hope”. It was an intriguing book that showcased the American dream and the possibility of achieving these lofty dreams.

That same sentiment has always kept some individuals strong, even in the face of daunting challenges. A few days ago, I shared my sentiment concerning the tenacity of Arsenal FC fans.

I tweeted: “Sometimes you got to praise the courage and resilience of Arsenal fans. Season after season, that constant heartbreaking experience never weigh them down. I draw inspiration from them and this week I’ll be writing an article dedicated to all Arsenal fans. You deserve all the Love”

Funny enough, the football season started on a very beautiful note for the London side, as they clinched both the FA Cup and the Community shield. An ecstatic Mikel Arteta was over the moon as he savored two trophies in his new managerial career at Arsenal.

The mood among Arsenal fans was even made merrier with the litany of signings in the summer transfer window. In came the likes of Thomas Partey, Gabriel Magalhaes, Willian, Runar Alex Runarsson, Pablo Mari, Cedric Soares, and Dani Ceballos.

The hope of a good run in the new season was high. Defense, midfield, and attack had been fortified. Unai Emery had been shown the exit door and Mikel Arteta was given a warm reception.

Everything was put in motion to ensure Arsenal brings back the glory years, and the FA Cup and Community shield triumph was an appetizer to the ever-loyal Arsenal faithful.

Fast forward to week 12 of the 2020/2021 English Premier League season, and Arsenal are rooted in the 15th position in the EPL Log after an embarrassing 1-0 loss at home to Burnley. It was not the first time they were losing at home this season.

Sundays’ loss to Burnley was Arsenal’s 4th consecutive home defeat at home this season. The initial hope that came with Mikel Arteta’s coming and the new signings have fizzled out. The alarm bell has started ringing, as rumors have started going around about the possibility of looking for a new manager.

It has indeed been a turbulent time for Arsenal supporters, as they have endured years of pain. The pain of going from season to season without a major trophy can be so devastating, but the ever-resilient gunner fans have always stood behind the club and players.

The audacity of hope can be seen in the play, as they keep dreaming about some positive moment. Unfortunately, someone jokingly tweeted about Arsenal’s trophyless run after Diego Maradona died recently. “Did you know that Diego Maradona died without seeing arsenal winning the champions league, he lived for 60 years

It was a rather embarrassing fact, that highlight the long wait for Joy among the Arsenal fans. Indeed, things have not gone according to plan this season, and confidence is at an all-time low among players.

Mesut Ozil

There have been fingers pointing at the ill-treatment meted out to Mesut Özil as been responsible for Arsenals dismal display so far. Indeed, the creative midfielder has been frozen from Arsenals first team since March 2020.

He remains Arsenal’s most creative midfielder and there is already a clamor for his recall to the team. The possibility of Mesut linking up with the squad in January is high, even as pressure keeps mounting on Mikel Arteta.

Lack of goals

Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Eddie Nketiah have been used as Arsenal’s main striking options this season, but their goal return has been dismal. Aubameyang has played 12 premier league matches this season and has scored just 2 goals.

Alexandre Lacazette has played 8 matches and made 2 substitute appearances this season with 3 goals to show. Eddie Nketiah has started 1 premier league match and made 9 substitute appearances and has just 1 goal to his name. Unfortunately, goals can only come when chances are created. Sadly, creativity is absent in the middle of the pack.

The manager

Questions have been raised about the ability of Arteta to steer Arsenal from the murky water of despondency into a top 4 team that they are used to. As an assistant to Pep Guardiola, he was never faced with these sorts of challenges.

Experience at the top level may be lacking. How to rightly utilize players at his disposal is another challenge. How he handles the Mesut Ozil situation will further show his capacity as a manager. Technically, he still has few things to learn in the game, but helping Arsenal to a respectful finish seems to be the agenda for now.

The agony of hope

Watching Mikel Arteta’s post-match interview after the Burnley defeat was heart-rendering. He was pensive and almost in tears. I could imagine the pain and turmoil inside of him. He didn’t look too hopeful, just like millions of Arsenal fans who have already resigned themselves to whatever comes their way.

Arsenal’s next four games will be crucial

The next four games for Arsenal have assumed a more significant dimension considering the situation of the club. They play Southampton at home, Everton away and Manchester City in the EFL Cup Quarterfinal. They then welcome Chelsea at home on boxing day in a must-win game. If they drop points in three EPL games, they may be swimming in the murky waters of relegation.

The audacity of hope may eventually give way to the pain of resignation. It’s a lonely world out there and even in this festive season, let’s keep sending love and light to all Arsenal fans. They are the real heroes in this unique chapter of the club’s unenviable transition.

tomorrow

When Tomorrow comes

When tomorrow comes, there are countless dreams we always desire to achieve. They keep us going, even when it’s far easier to give in to discouragement. Just like yesterday, we soon emerge in the cusps of the beauty tomorrow promised.

No guarantee

Unfortunately, tomorrow is promised to no one. We are only sure of today. The best we can always do is hope for tomorrow, but as much as we look forward to it, we must enjoy every moment today offers.  I might cry tomorrow, but I may be smiling the day after. That’s enough. That’s the way life is. If I don’t lose hope – tomorrow will come.

The truth is, tomorrow will come if we don’t lose hope. Live today facing forward, with your back on yesterday, your eyes on tomorrow, and your head and heart at the moment. You may lose everything, but never you lose hope. Stay strong, you never know what tomorrow brings.

Love Life, Love yourself. Nothing is guaranteed. So many things we go through, but we always stay strong. Our paths may not be the easiest. The journey may not be the smoothest, but we must keep moving on courageously. Never looking back in fear and regret at yesterday’s pains.

He never got to see his dreams come to Light

A few days ago, I had a nostalgic memory of a very dear friend. We both attended high school together. He was the most loving soul in the entire school. He was soft spoken. Technically gifted. Intelligent and smart. He was also calm as they come.

One beautiful Monday morning, we all came to school to hear the sad news that Emoefe was gone. It was a difficult day for us all because he was much loved by all.

We never knew he was going through some medical challenges. Always smiling even in extreme difficulty, Emoefe never had the opportunity to blossom with his amazing talents. He was just 15.

Emoefe had big dreams. He once shared with me some of those lofty dreams. A very ambitious student, who had high hope of unleashing his potentials when tomorrow comes, but he left those lofty dreams untouched. Conquered by the ailment that had plagued him from birth. Emoefe was brave to death. Never showed signs of worry and anxiety.

Life sometimes can be cruel. Kept asking myself: Why do bad things sometimes happen to good people? Why do some beautiful souls have to go through some painful moments?

Unfortunately, most questions about life have answers but sometimes these answers again become questions themselves. Life is a mystery and we just need to bear the burden life brings with joy.

Today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day. Enjoy each moment, knowing that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.

success

Success is always intentional

In whatever you do in life, always do something intentional every day to create the success you want and deserve. Success is not accidental, it is intentional. Often, we describe successful people as individuals who have a good job, ride good cars, are happily married with kids, dress cutely, live in their own home, etc.

While to some, when they think of success they imagine wealth, others want power while others want to make a positive impact in life. All these are perfectly valid because success is a concept that means different things to different people but, no matter what success means to you, it is not something that will certainly come easily.

There is no single right way to be successful in life because what works for you might not work for someone else. Success is personal and unique to each individual.  It is the ability to reach your goals in life whatever these goals might be.

 You are the only person who intimately knows what you want to accomplish in life. There are certain achievements and milestones you may wish to attain. It is all about making maximum impact that brings fulfillment to  your life.

Identifying what makes you special and who you truly are is the best you can do for yourself if you want to be successful in life. Stop looking to others for validation that you are on the right track. The first step in your journey to success is to have a clear definition of what success means to you. Knowing your destination will keep you traveling on the right path even when the temptation to go off track comes along.

To be successful, you need to dream big, plan and prepare then put in effort and time. Research and find out what you need to do to achieve your goals in life, then aim to be the very best that you possibly can be based on your concept of accomplishment.

Everyone’s path to great accomplishment is different hence when you are pursuing your goals/ dreams, acknowledge that you might make mistakes and fail. Things will not always go according to your plans. Challenges will come but know that the challenges won’t last forever.

There will be mistakes and failures along the way. Mistakes and failures are the bridges you cross on your way towards success. There would be moments when you feel like the end goal is so far away or the process is different. Don’t worry these circles of discomfort are part of the success package. Acknowledge what you are feeling but don’t let it hold you back.

There are no shortcuts to accomplishing great results in life. A building’s foundations go down before the building goes up. It takes sacrifice, patience, time, a passionate desire to succeed, and a strong will to win. Learn from others’ mistakes and you don’t have to reinvent mistakes that others have already made.

Nobody wakes up to become successful in life. Success is always an intentional act. True success comes from work. You will never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it!!!

Life

Life is a beautiful Journey

So often in life, we encounter things that tend to blow away the wind out of us and set us back on reaching our goals and destiny in life, but we must never dwell on the negatives from such experiences. Dwelling on the positives will always do us a world of good.

The idea is not to ever get discouraged when we falter or get stuck on the sand of adversity and trial. These things will always be there as our constant companion, but when we make up our mind to always strive forward and not backward, discouragement will take flight and our heart will surge with waves of encouragement.

Bus stops

Life takes us through several bus stops. It doesn’t mean you’ve come to the end of your journey in life. It only means you are getting close to your destination. Sometimes, the bus may take a while and patiently wait for others to come inside. Don’t get discouraged when you experience delays in any area of your life. It’s just a temporary setback.

Don’t give up on the journey

Some arrive early to their destination, while others arrive so late. No matter what happens in the journey of life, never you give up on your dreams. Forget about your age. Forget about your background. When it’s your time to blossom, nothing will stop you from shining.

Always look on the positive side

There is always positive in every negative situation we go through in life. Some have a very quick start to life and accomplish so much before their peers. Others are slow starters, but slowly and gradually, they also achieve all they had set to achieve in life.

Efan Ekoku, former Norwich City and Wimbledon striker who now has a beautiful career in the media as a sports commentator has always been an inspiration. He became a full international in 1993 when he was called up to the Nigerian National football team before Tunisia 1994 African Nations Cup.

He blossomed late in his international career. At 27 years of age, many would have written him off, but he was selected for the Tunisia 94 tournament and emerged as a winner. It was a beautiful story that instills hope in those who may be thinking about giving up on their career.

This life is what you make it. Just because you fail once, doesn’t mean the journey is over. Keep trying, hold on, and always believe in yourself. Keep your head high, keep your chin up, and keep smiling no matter what you going through.

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