By Godwin Enakhena
She is down to earth and speaks from the belly at all times. “Whatever is worth doing should be done very well” is her motto. Alhaja Ayo Omidiran transited from an avid football administrator to politics and she just served as a two-time member of the House of Representatives.
While formulating laws for the nation in Abuja, this Amazon never forgot her first love, football. No wonder she has since revived her pet club, Omidiran Babes, a team that made waves in the Women’s League in Nigeria a few years ago.
A woman with a heart of gold, lover of youth, Alhaja Omidiran was recently reappointed chairperson of women’s football at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), from where she’s expected to get back her position at the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
I had a no hold barred chat with this
Osun state born businesswoman recently and I bet it will be worth your time. Happy reading.
Q: May we meet you, Madam.
A: My name is Alhaja Ayo Omidiran. My parents, Alhaji Abubakar Baralola and Alhaja Samia Baralola, are late. My dad had four wives, my mum was the second. I am married to Alhaji
Q: Where are you from
A: I am from Ikire in Irewole Local Government Area of Osun state.
Q: Tell us about your educational background
A: I attended AUD Primary School, Ikire; Ayedaade Grammar School, Ikire and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria where I studied Biochemistry
Q: What was growing up like?
A: Growing up was fun; a lot of fun. I’m from a large family and we related very well with one another. We had healthy competition growing up with every child wanting to be the best without undermining each other.
A: What prepared you for football administration?
A: Nothing. I love sports but I’m very passionate about football. It’s easy when you love what you do
Q: Work experience after graduation
A: It’s been business all the way. I am into bulk trading in beauty products. I took to business so that I will have time for my family.
Q: How much of football did you play growing up?
A: I played football for recreation and not professionally. It was unthinkable for girls to play football seriously when I was growing up
Q: Tell us the story of Omidiran Babes Football Club and why you disbanded the club
A: I started Omidiran Babes Football club as a hobby and my own way of developing our young women to take them off the streets. I sponsored the club From 1997 till 2006. I was no longer deriving any satisfaction from the project and had to let go
Q: Why did you decide to resuscitate Omidiran Babes?
A: Football is important to me and this is one way I give back to my society. It is a way to engage the girl child.I resisted the urge but it wasn’t going to be for long. However, the club is now being run under the auspices of my Foundation.
Q: Did anyone in your family do sports?
A: Nobody in my family did sports seriously
Q: How did you meet your husband?
A: I met my husband immediately after my Youth Service (NYSC). We met at Ikire, my hometown and we became friends. His calmness attracted him to me. He’s very matured and level headed. He’s able to handle my tantrums and I really respect him a lot
Q: You played a pivotal role in the formation of the Nigeria Women’s League (NWL).Ttell us about it.
A: We started the Women’s Professional League when I was chairperson of the women’s football committee of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA). It was a project after my heart and it took two to three years to finally make it happen. It is a legacy I’m very proud of
Q: What was the experience like as a board member of the NFA?
A: As a board member of the NFA, my focus was women’s football. And we did very well. That was the golden era of women’s football in Nigeria
Q: What were the challenges you faced as part of the women’s league?
A: Many challenges. Though we had sponsors but the money wasn’t enough for our programmes
Q: What were the positive things your board did that benefited women’s football in Nigeria?
A: The board started professional women’s football league and gave women’s football clubs their own identity. That’s a big deal
Q: Does politics run in your family?
A: Yes, politics runs in my family even though no member of my family has gone for elective position before. My father was a party leader in the old Western State. He chaired his party at a time during the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) days
Q: Are your kids into sports?
A: My children love sports. Some play football and other sports like swimming, running and badminton.
Q: Any regrets in life?
A: No regrets. Every experience has been a lesson learned
Q: Any Phobia?
A: Fear of heights. I love flying but I have phobia for high floors. I can’t look down.
Q: Role model
A: The German chancellor, Angela Merkel. She’s homely though very successful in politics
Q: How religious are you?
A: I have faith in God Almighty and keep matters of faith very private. I am a Muslim.
Q: Can you recall pranks you played as a kid that got you in serious trouble?
A: Really can’t recall any specific prank.