BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
Former president of the West African Football Union (WAFU) and president of the Association of Sports Veterans, Nigeria (ASVN), Chief Jonathan Ogufere has lamented the death of Albert Omokhaye, a former general secretary of the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA).
Omokhaye passed on Wednesday. He would have been 88 years old next month. He was the scribe of the Nigerian football governing body from 1964 to 1985 and therefore may not have been well known having headed the administration of the Nigerian football governing body in the ‘ancient past’.
At a time, it was even a subject of debate if he was ever a general secretary at the then Nigeria Football Association as his name was conspicuously missing on the board at NFF Secretariat, which listed past administrators.
Herbert Omokhaye was the secretary of the NFA from 1964 to 1965 when he was seconded to the association from the just established National Sports Council (NSC), which transformed into National Sports Commission in 1971.
Omokhaye would have clocked 88 on 28 November. According to Chief Ogufere, part of Nigeria’s football history has gone with Omokhaye.
“He did so much for Nigerian football having played the game, administered the game and also officiated”, remarked Chief Ogufere in a telephone interview with the Sport Village Square.
Omokhaye’s football career started when he was a member of the Methodist Boys High School in 1950 from where he joined the Lagos UAC club as a left-sided defender in 1951 before moving to SCOA in 1955.
He featured for the then Nigerian model club, Federal United in the Challenge Cup final of 1958 before retiring in 1961 to begin a career in sports administration.
Omokhaye became the general secretary of the then Lagos Amateur Football Association (LAFA) in 1962 from where he moved to the newly established National Sports Council (NSC) in 1964.
It was from there that he was seconded to the NFA. Two years ago, he told Sports Village Square that he became a referee in 1969 and rose to the top grade in 1975. He retired as a referee in 1981 and became a match commissioner in 1982.
Chief Ogufere described him as one of the few people who can be remembered for contributing to the growth of Nigerian football and was also a custodian of fact and figures. “So sad to miss him”, remarked Chief Ogufere.