Sunday, 23 February 2014

EXCLUSIVE: 'I know how much millions I poured into female football' MEET AFRICA'S SOLE FOOTBALL AGENT TO UAE.

Destiny Ken: CEO of Destiny Football Academy
He was part of the team that secured what was Nigeria's and Africa's first ever FIFA trophy, The Edo state indigene has poured millions of Naira to the growth and development of both female and male football in Nigeria, He is the sole football agent in Africa to magnificent sport company in U.A.E and in U.K...  Meet the CEO of Destiny football Academy – Coach Destiny Ken as Sportunes caught up with him in Ramada beach hotel here in UAE.

Sportunes: Good day coach, Nigerian football followers at home and diaspora would like to know you, Please introduce yourself..

Destiny Ken: Yea, Thank you very much and good morning Sportunes crew, I am Coach Destiny Ken, the CEO/Manager of Destiny football academy in Nigeria, precisely Ogun state. We are talent hunters and builders, We have been in existence for quite some years now and by his grace we are still in existence till date.

Destiny Ken on Official Duty
Destiny Ken scouting, hunting and building talents
Sportunes: Talking about owning a football academy in Nigeria, in most cases, more often than not, that business is for the crème de la creme of the footballing world.. We would like to have your Curriculum Vitae sir.

Destiny Ken: As for that, Nigeria is a place where you struggle to get what you want, it has not been easy but like I said earlier on, I give glory to God for his assistance. I have been in the football circle for quite some years now and let me say from a team called St John. Building young talents, I won Agege league twice consecutively, Pepsi Academy was second owned by Laloko and my player called Steven Eke was the highest goal scorer two times consecutively…. When I left there, I went to form a female team known as DE-JAZ angels. I ran that for four to five years, I left Lagos for Kwara state after 5 months.

Destiny Ken and the girls
Coach of the year: Destiny Ken
I also won a trophy in Gbagada owned by a Lagos state magistrate, In another progressive mode, i represented Kwara state in what they call naval cup that is Nigerian navy cup. We won the cup and represented Nigeria in Norway 2008 and came out in the first semifinal beaten by the host the Norwegians. I went again to Finland to represent Nigeria, we came out again in the second semi final.. all these were sponsored by the CEO speaking to the whole world Destiny Ken.

Sportunes – From what I could gather, you clearly laid you mark in female football, you are also in the male circle right now.. Which football gender do you consider more challenging?

Destiny Ken showing support
Destiny Ken and his boys
Destiny Ken: There’s little or no difference, the only little difference is that it takes a lot of discipline, self discipline to be in the female circle. One, they are always (I’m sorry to use the word) too careless, tempting and somehow. When you are in the female circle, you know what it means, because not everybody are born the same way.

The challenges in it is that if you know how you take care of just a single wife at home, you will know what it takes to take care of thirty players who all are females. It was not very easy, but I thank God today that I was able to scale through. Though I was in male football before I jumped into female football.

Sportunes: Back in Nigeria, we know the Super Falcons are like the giant of Africa, but the female league is another thing entirely, What do you think is wrong with the system?

Destiny Ken: Like we all know, the Nigerian system employs a fire brigade approach. Its not like the NFF are not trying, they are trying their best, only their best is not too good enough. Like I said earlier on, females are always too fragile to handle. I know what I faced when I was handling them, so I also feel for them. When Mrs Omidiran and Mrs Jegede were having female teams, people rarely knew what they were passing through…

That was what I wrote in my article in 2006/2007, the doldrums of female football in Nigeria. IGI were handling male league, no sponsorship whatsoever, yet we were running a female professional league. A female professional league, where a player cannot care for herself not to talk of caring for her family and this is a profession that is meant to take care of one’s self… But because of the lackadaisical system that we always do in Nigeria, I’m not saying to the NFF, but in Nigeria generally, brings that shaky organization in the female system. If you can see, when we go internationally, we play well. We qualify for nation’s cup, we qualify for world cups. How are these girls being noticed, how are these girls being picked, we are the ones doing the dirty job. They are always talking of producing, we are the ones producing, we are the ones manufacturing, they are only going for the promotion, if you don’t manufacture, how do you promote.

We are supposed to be recognized, quitting female football today is as a result of hardship, no sponsorship. I know how much millions I poured into female football, you can imagine somebody taking twenty female players to abroad. No kobo from government, no kobo from corporate bodies.

Destiny Ken Dishing out tactics
Sportunes: You have talked so much about your managerial prospects/career; did you ever play professional football?

Destiny Ken: Yea.. First and foremost, I started my football career in Benin City as an Edo state born indigene. I was a member of Samco stars youth team, it was that Samco stars youth team that I was picked to play the first ever under 16 JVC cup in China 1985… We camped in Benin in Ogbe stadium, from there we were moved to Benbo game village in Ibadan. After six weeks, we were moved to Azizi in Edo state.. There, we were selected to represent Nigeria under the umbrella of Broderick Imasuen Sebastian.

To the glory of God, after conquering Africa, we represented Nigeria in that under 16 team which is now the under 17. When we were going nobody noticed our going out, but when we were coming, the whole world knew that we were coming. The match I can remember vividly was the match we played against Guinea in the semi final, it was a tension soaked match. Well we thank God we won and with the likes of Binabei, Jonathan Akpoborie, Victor Igbinoba,  and the host of others. Today, I will say I am a legend, even if that was the only national team I played as a result of a knee injury sustained when I was invited to under 19 a year after that. After the national team, I played in Nigeria, I also played briefly in Wales, I played briefly in Lebanon. That is after which I came back to play for I.B.W.A sharp shooters under the umbrella of Coach Mutiu Okonnu.

Nduka Ugbade and Destiny Ken helped Nigeria to its first ever FIFA trophy
Sportunes: Getting my facts right, that means you won the inaugural FIFA Under-16, now U-17 world Cup?

Destiny Ken: Yea.. Correct

Sportunes: I also stand to be corrected, that was Nigeria and Africa's first ever football achievement at a global level?

Destiny Ken: Yes

Sportunes: Leaving China and coming back to Nigeria, what was the ovation like? And what did you get from the government of the day?

Destiny Ken: Well. As at that time, football was not all that promoted, it was recognized but it was not that promoted as the way government is promoting it now. They tried, I think in my state I was given a token but what gave me joy mostly was the ovation given to us, putting us in motorcade by coca cola with the trophy under our own captain that time Nduka Ugbade and we were driven all round the whole Lagos, we were also driven round the whole state of individual players.

Above all, we were named after a particular street of your own choice in your state and my father then who was an adviser to Benson Alegbe who was the then speaker of Bendel state house of assembly under the regime of Ambrose Ali.. The house of assembly also hosted us because the Bendel state boys then were nine among the team. So in a nutshell, I don’t want to say I was not encouraged, I appreciate what the government did that time even if they did not build house for us, even if they did not give us a car, like I earlier said, at that time football was not under a high profile.

Sportunes: Unfortunately your career was cut short because of a knee injury, But from that particular glorious set, who are those that went on to make their mark in professional football?

Journey man: Jonathan Akpoborie played for ten different clubs
Nduka Ugbade is now assistant manager with the Flying Eagles
Destiny Ken: Jonathan Akpoborie was among those that joined Nduka Ugbade to play at the under 20 and the super eagles. Apart from those two, there is another Northern guy again, which I cannot remember his name now who also got to the stage of under 20. Apart from that, all other ones had to do one thing or the other.

Sportunes: Following a premature exit from the beautiful game, how did you manage to get to where you are today?

Destiny ken has battled his way to the Top
Destiny Ken: Well, I give glory to God for everything that has been sustaining me and my investment all this while. Atimes I took loans, atimes I go borrowing from individuals to make up my own business, right now I have a camp, a three bedroom flat where I kept my players. I used to train at Gateway international stadium in Ogun state along Ikenne road, I meet people – sport loving individuals, atimes they assist and infact it has not been easy... I give glory to God once again, my achievement so far has been so fruitful because I know how many of my players have passed through me to abroad playing international football even if today, they are not remembering but they know that through me coach destiny ken popularly known as coach surpriser, that I helped them out. 

I can mention the likes of Sunday Oyan in Spain played for the super eagles in Calabar against Madagascar, Azubike also in Spain, Kingsley Ogude in Spain, Yusuf fofana in Germany, Gabriel Itodo playing in Finland, Emeka Abuba also playing now in Turkish league and the host of others. Among the females, i have Ngozi Okobi who played U-17, U-20 and for the super falcon. Then Osas Igbinovia played U-20 it was her only goal that took Nigeria to semi final in Russia. Uzor Ken Silva was part of the U-17 but was dropped 5days to departure as a result knee injury. There are so many of them like that but I thank God for today.

Destiny Ken with his players in UAE
Sportunes: From what we have gathered, you have dedicated the last twenty years of your life to player/team management, coaching, agency and what have we… Rumor also has it that your currently in the UAE with some of your boys, whats your aspiration for them?

Destiny Ken: Thank you, what a good question. Like everybody knows, Rome was not built in a day. I have been pursuing this international football business for so long. When I used to take players to Russia, to Azerbaijan, to Kazakhstan, to Ukraine en route this UAE, that was when I first met the rise of good football coming up in UAE…. As at that time, UAE were yet to come up as they are now.. 

Last August 2013, I came with nine players, six junior players and three senior players, we went to various trials and they were picked and selected but because we came a little bit behind the time, at that time they were playing under 17 world cup and they hurriedly closed their registration period. So when we came in, we were four days behind their closing of registration, but to the glory of God, they still gave me a chance and allowed my boys to train with various teams. I went to Ras Al Khaimah, they saw them as good players and said come January, I went to Al Dhafra, the same thing, they picked two boys there and they said come January. 

We also went to Ajman fc and they picked one of the under 19, they said come again by January. Now we went back, unfortunately, I was only able to come with four to UAE. The one that was picked by Al Wasl is still there now, signed for under 16 and the one that came to Ajman fc, they said before my coming, they had two foreigners in the team that they were still making use of and by the time their contract runs out at the end of the season, definitely there will be space for the boy.

Nigerian Under age teams are usually accused of age fraud
Sportunes: Talking about the under 17 that we just witnessed in the Uae, Football pundits all over the world tend to associate Nigerians with what we know as Age fraud, I need your strong opinion on this issue.

Destiny Ken: In my own days, let me take for example, people have been captioning it as the best ever under aged squad since the existence of under age tournament - China 85. The boys that came to UAE, to me were not beyond their ages, no one can determine ones age except a father or a mother. Another thing is as long as the federal government has signed and stamped the certificate of international passport, everybody assumes they are underage.. 

Passion: Destiny Ken stands out on pitch
Business: He also stands out off the pitch.
Sportunes; Definitely football is your passion and fortunately for you, you have managed to make profit out of this passion, how profitable has this football business been to you?

Destiny Ken: I thank God, there's a word you used, passion. When you have passion over something, you will not take money first. Passion is one department, Business is another department, though people always say nowadays that business is business. Football is a business I have passion for. I have not actually made good profit in it, I have always been investing because football is a long term investment. You may not know, I was a manager in a bank, I resigned 2005, that was when I came into football fully and I formed a male team and a female team. The money I got is what I have been using until a particular time, it exhausted, then I went on loaning to continue the investment. I know one day one day I will be the likes of Shittu and Co, because when they started they too struggled, but they have made it today.

Destiny football Academy

Sportunes: So coach, talking about the Destiny football academy, what are the challenges you have faced so far? Have you received support from the federal government or corporate bodies back in Nigeria?

Destiny Ken: Destiny football academy is a private owned academy that has been under the resourcefulness of God almighty, no government sponsorship, no corporate body in assistance. The boys in camp and some girls in camp have been under my own feeding, their accommodation, like I earlier said, I have a three bedroom flat in Ogun state where the camp is located. I have bore hole there, I have a bus we use to go to training and go to matches and in fact God has been sustaining us, no corporate body no government, whether state or federal and i'm using this media to seek for assistance so that more talents will be used for Nigerian football.

Students of Destiny Football Academy during a training session
Sportunes: Still talking about the academy, what are the attributes and criteria one has to to fulfill, before he or she can be admitted into destiny football academy?

Destiny Ken: Yeah!. Like you know, making heaven you need to do some sacrifices, coming into the destiny football academy, you need to do some sacrifice. Not rituals (laughs), When I mean sacrifices, that is self discipline, be a good player. We have a form you buy, non refundable, then you come in, you do screening for two weeks, then after, if you pass, we register you, then we train you, when you are good enough and ripe to go to abroad, we will arrange trials for you, like those undergoing trials now.

Sportunes: You seem to be a very busy man as you have traveled all over the world because of football, Sir please do you have a family? Because we find it hard to comprehend how one can sustain a family amid all these long distances?

Destiny Ken: I give glory to God for giving me a good wife who understands the profession I take, right from the time of my playing days, she was with me, I used to be in camp even when we were yet to have children… When I married her fully, I was into football management and to the glory of God, today I have children. My last born is a footballer, my second to the last born is a footballer, my first born also was supposed to be a footballer, but he took education first, now a graduate in university of Ekpoma, he’s now the CEO of his own personal business fabric international organization. 

Today, I create time, when i'm on business, i'm on business, when I come back I take time to stay with my family, when i'm going out I will also make arrangement that will not affect my business and will not affect my family. In a nutshell today the business is happy, my family is also happy.

Sportunes: Have you ever applied for any role in the national team?

Destiny Ken: Yes you just reminded me of something, since 2008, after they watched my team on cable, 2009 again they watched and said who is this coach? Because when you see my girls playing, you will think they are boys, because as at that time we trained twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. I ruled Nigerian female football for good four years.... After that I was called upon by the NFF, when I got there like you know after the whole ceremony, I was turned back and the job was given to somebody else. Not that I was not good enough, but they know best because i'm an applicant to the board who knows what they wanted, but to your question yes, I once applied, but it never came. But one thing you should bear in mind is that, why I never cried for it is because in Nigeria, football coaching is all about firing and hiring

Sportunes: Compared to juggernauts like Pepsi Academy, we know Destiny Academy still has a pretty long way to go, we will like to know if there are plans on ground to reach that standard? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Destiny Ken with the coach of Ajman youth team
Destiny Ken with a Super Agent
Destiny Ken discussing the way forward
Destiny Ken: Well, I see myself on top. By the special grace of God, machineries have been put in place to standardize so many things; like in standard of players; I have put in mind, the ages of the players have to be of standard and I have gotten more contacts both in UAE and in Europe. 

That makes an academy to be growing, when there are graduates in the academy, they move out then we move in the new ones. But one thing that I must put at the back of each and everyone's mind is that destiny football academy is of international standard through which players will be travelling to abroad without prejudice, no age discrimination, no language barrier, no religious problem, Muslims or Christians we are all one.. So if you are coming to destiny football academy, come with a free mind, you will be well trained, well disciplined, then above all you will get what you want by taking you abroad and play your football.

Destiny Football Academy player undergoing trials
Sportunes: Coach you seem to be in love with taking your players abroad, is the land not green in Nigeria?

Destiny Ken: The NFF have developed the league already, like you know, Europe is a place where they dig gold when it comes to football talents, it’s a thing everybody knows, let us not deceive ourselves, the home-based players are doing well but Europe players from Nigeria are doing better. That’s just my conclusion.

Sportunes: What will you describe as the proudest moment of your career?

Destiny Ken is officially the sole football agent in Africa to UAE's magnificent sport company
Destiny Ken: My best moment was when i won the first ever under 16 FIFA JVC tournament in China in 1985. Now to crown it all, i have just been appointed as the sole football agent in Africa to magnificent sport company in U.A.E and in U.K. The contract has just been signed between me and the management of the sports company.

Sportunes: Finally, we will like you to give a shout out to Nigerians all over the globe reading this and what is your message of hope to all aspiring footballers who are dreaming to one day don the green and white jersey of the super eagles?

Destiny Ken: Yea, I thank God, Thank you Sportunes, I also thank you the readers.. My advice and my encouragement to the upcoming ones – they should be up and doing, they should not put money first in their football career, they have to think of the future, they have to be oriented, they have to have that passion, because when you put money first, you will not go a long way. Lets take example from Sam Okwaraji, may his soul rest in peace, the likes of Christian Chukwu, the likes of Muda lawal, may his soul rest in peace. These are players who never bothered whether the money was coming or not. I know now that football is money, but we should put God first and other things should follow.

Sportunes: That will be it Coach, we at Sportunes wish you the very best of luck and we sincerely hope that all the efforts you have put to take Nigerian football to the next level will not be in vain.

Coach Destiny Ken just before the interview with Sportunes
Sportunes's Okusami Itunu 
Destiny Ken: Thank you very much Sportunes for giving me the opportunity to speak to the whole world and I give glory to God for sparing our lives to run this interview far away in UAE. I was even very surprised, I never thought I could run into a powerful media of Sportunes in my life. I was very surprised when you the CEO met me at the staircase in Ramada hotel where we lodged and you said you have seen me in a Dubai club before and asked if I was a coach, I said yes.. That is how we met. I will also advise you to keep up your good job, Most of your articles that I have read, I have not seen any sentiment in your write up, I have not seen any negativity, you should keep it up because the truth is bitter but you have to say it and I wish you best of luck.


  1. Pls oo.. how do i apply?? me sef wan go obodo oyinbo

  2. Too much info.. yawns*

  3. Itunu!!! Who carry u go Dubai

  4. Coach more grace to your elbow

  5. I think doing good job deserves good commendation. Plseas let give God all the praise and cudose to coach Destiny ken for his contributions to football development and also to a great journalist like SPORTUNS led by the
    C.E.O. himself, Lord itunu.

  6. I will make u proud

  7. nice job man