Super Eagles star, Alex Iwobi has partnered with another Nigerian Adekanmi AbayomI and his organization, Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation Northern Ireland group (EMSONI) to deliver football for everyone.
EMSONI is a community-driven multi-sports organisation for the development of ethnic minority sports in Northern Ireland with the aim of diversifying the face of sports.
Iwobi touched down at Nothern Ireland just hours after Everton’s game last weekend. He is vying to provide opportunities for young stars from every ethnic group to play football and develop in the sport.
The 26-year-old was born in Lagos but grew up in England and is hoping that kids have better opportunities than he did.
“It takes me back to my childhood days. I was playing with different cultures, different backgrounds when I was playing all over London and Essex,” Iwobi said at Midgley Park for the Northern Ireland Confederations Cup semi-final between Nigeria and Ghana as quoted by BBC Sport
“I want everyone to have the same opportunity, or even more, than I did as a kid. In football you are able to experience a lot of life situations and it brings everyone together.
“I’m here to support and give back to the community. I am always here to try and show up and support as much as I can.”
Iwobi reiterated that he was buzzing to join the football for all movement in Northern Ireland as it aligns with his own mission.
“When this opportunity came around there was no doubt we wanted to tap into it,” he added.
“To see what they done in the past, I want it to grow and elevate. To come here and see it for myself and witness it is crazy.
“They [EMSONI] had 15 communities involved and now they’ve got 20 this year. I was even meeting with the mayor of Belfast so to have opportunities like that is amazing.
“With football there is an opportunity for everyone. I’m the same as everyone else, I’m human at the end of the day.
“Growing up as a kid I only really had support from Arsenal and my family. I’m grateful for what I had, but things like EMSONI weren’t around in my area and can only help people in the future.”
After nine months of trying to bring Iwobi to Belfast, it was a perfect opportunity when the Nigeria versus Ghana Northern Ireland semifinal and East Timor versus Sudan Northern Ireland semifinal game coincided with a free day for the Super Eagles star.
“We are so happy with the passion from him,” he said.
“It’s amazing to see a promising young guy who has done well for himself use his platform to inspire young people and bring communities together.
“Alex brings a lot to this project and a lot to Northern Ireland. He has done well for himself and he is a success story. We can use it as a good model to show what people can do for themselves.
“It’s unbelievable. You can see it is organic and natural for him,
“It shows he is genuinely interested in giving back to society. I would implore other internationals of his status to emulate something like that.
“That is what they need, these guys need somebody to identify with. Alex is doing that and is proud of that.
“I’m proud of EMSONI and the volunteers as they made it happen. I’m still struggling that this is a reality, I’m glad he is in Belfast for the first time and he is loving the atmosphere. We can’t thank him enough.”
The Grand Finale will hold on Saturday, August 20 in Belfast.