Football

IFUNANYACHI ACHARA OF TORONTO FC TALKS ABOUT THE ROLE OF EDUCATION IN ACHIEVING HIS PROFESSIONAL DREAMS AS A SOCCER PLAYER FROM ENUGU, NIGERIA.

Background of Yourself and Your Journey

Achara: I played football all my life in the city of Enugu in Nigeria, with youth teams. It was mostly street football at that point. I played in a regional tournament where a few players were selected to represent Enugu State and I was one of those chosen.

This tournament was held in Benin and Enugu lost in the finals. After this tournament, I met a few coaches that came to watch the game and loved what they saw. It was at this point that I was invited to represent Nigeria at the Youth level in a Coca-Cola tournament in South Africa.

I came back home and started the MTN Football Scholar Program, where students can combine Football and their academics. This was a good initiative then, because the general situation in Nigeria is one where young players skip going to University, so that they can chase their football dreams, and where the dream of football does not pan out, they have to go look for odd jobs to survive.

This program made it easy for me to combine Football and School, and I ended up in Berkshire School in Massachusetts and played for two years. After this, I went to Georgetown University, where I won all the titles. From Georgetown, I got drafted by Toronto FC in the first round of the 2020 MLS Superdraft.

If not for MTN Football Scholar, would you have still chased Soccer and Academics?

The goal for me was to just play Soccer and it did not matter to me how I got there. However, with the addition of schooling, it made it easier for me to chase my soccer dreams.

I think now, I will really emphasize on taking your education seriously, while chasing your football dreams because nobody plays forever. It is very difficult to go Pro and you will need something to fall back on.

This difficulty is why more programs like the MTN Football scholar are needed.

What do you think about the Proliferation of more Schools like the Right to Dream across Africa, in order to Encourage this Balance between Sports and Education?

It will really be helpful. There are so many players that have come from the Right to Dream School into the MLS.

There are a lot of talents in Africa and more schools like the Right to Dream will be a perfect way to nurture and grow these talents, and most importantly, give them soft skills that transcends beyond just playing football.

An Article said you were once Shortlisted for the National Team. How has it been Trying to Put Yourself in the National Team Conversation?

I have no clue about the article that you are talking about (Laughs). I will keep trying to do well for my team and maybe I will get noticed by people that handle the national team, but I am just focused on getting better for me and Toronto FC.

How well do you keep in touch with Nigerian Trends?

I am really behind on the slangs, because slang is something that exists in a culture where you are presently in. I stay in touch through social media and I am up to date with the music scene, especially with my favorite artists like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Psquare etc. 

I also follow funny Nigerian pages like KraksTv and Media personalities like Broda Shaggi, as he makes me laugh a lot.

Any African Players Support System in the MLS?

There are programs organised by the league like the Black People Collegiate Movement.I had a small group of people last year, where we talked about things.

Last two years, you had a gaming stream where you raised funds for the EndSars Movement, so what is your gaming experience?

I am a mid-level gamer right now because it was difficult to fit gaming in between classes and soccer practice. I play FIFA, Fortnite, and Call of Duty right now.

Will you be Open to have Co-Streams with Gaming Content Creators from Nigeria and Africa?

Yes, I can definitely do this. 

 

 

Stephen Ojo

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