The philanthropic activities of clergywoman Rev (Mother) Esther Ajayi in Nigeria’s sports sector have left tongues wagging.
The General Overseer of the Love of Christ Generation Church, UK, latest foray in the sports world is the sponsorship of the fifth edition of the Asisat Oshoala Football4girls at the Campos Mini Stadium, Lagos.
The event, which began on December 4, ends on Tuesday in Lagos.
The Asisat Oshoala Youth Foundation, a brainchild of three-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year, Asisat Oshoala, is a non-profit organisation committed to improving the physical, social and intellectual development of the girl-child through education and sports.
Ajayi and her church LOC had also given tremendous backing to boxer and European IBF welterweight champion Larry Ekundayo as well as helping the cash-strapped Nigeria Football Supporters Club with N20m for their trip to last year’s World Cup in Russia.
Saddled with so much church work and preaching the Christian gospel, why her interest in sports?
“One of the things that unite people together in the world is sports, one of the things that will bring peace to the world is sports, aside from the word of the Lord, the Bible. That’s why I take a keen interest in sports, “ Ajayi said.
If you are a boxer, you can only underrate Mother Ajayi at your own peril.
Boxing is her favourite sport and she takes training lessons in the sport on a regular basis.
“I love boxing, I love exercising, I’ve got my gloves,” she said.
“I cannot exercise three weeks without boxing, I have a personal trainer who knows that at some point we must do boxing because it’s one of the cheapest ways of losing weight.”
On November 9, her youth empowerment programme through the Esther Ajayi Foundation gave 10 kids N500,000 each.
She says it’s one of her ways of helping to take some burden off the government.
“If they are waiting for the government in this country to do it, it might not happen, no government in any country can do it all.
“We have to start thinking, whatever thing you’ve got and want to turn it around, turn it around. Nobody is going to wait forever. If you know how to bake, do meat pie and be creative with it. Only you can stop you. If you are not stopping yourself, nobody can. I was homeless before in the UK but I was writing, use your idle time judiciously.”
During Ekundayo’s IBF title fight in the UK, Ajayi was present to give her support to the Nigerian pugilist.
The boxer said following the support he had from the General Overseer of the Love of Christ Church, he had an easy ride to victory in the UK.
The first fruit from the massive support offered by the LOC is the European IBF welterweight title, which the boxer assured was the first of many still to come.
Ekundayo said, “No disrespect to the former champion who I defeated but sincerely with the support I got from LOC, it was very easy for me to win.
“That kind of support has been missing for me for several years but I thank Mother Esther for coming to my rescue.”
On her support for Ekundayo amidst an array of boxing talents in the country, Ajayi stated, “Larry Ekundayo is an amazing person, gratitude is his attitude, each time he wins, he comes back to my church, faces the altar and thanks God.”
Ajayi and other notable personalities in the Nigerian society will grace the grand finale of Oshoala’s Football4Hope, which will be rounded off on Christmas Eve,
The first session of the 2019 Football4Hope, was held from December 4 to 6, at the end of which young footballers were discovered by a consortium of football resource officials at the Campos Mini Stadium.
The second session is billed to hold from December 22 to 24, where a number of activities have been lined up to round off this year’s event.
Other dignitaries expected to add colour to the final are Dr Stella Okoli, the Chief Executive Officer of Emzor Pharmaceutical; Sunday Dare, the sports minister; Seun Fakorede, sports commissioner, Oyo State; Amaju Pinnick, President, Nigeria Football Federation; Shehu Dikko, 2nd vice president of the NFF; Aisha Falode, Chairperson, Nigeria Women’s Football League amongst others.
Ajayi is looking forward to the grand finale with glee.
“Asisat is an amazing child, it’s a chain, if I give you, give others, that’s what Asisat is doing.”
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