BY KUNLE SOLAJA
Augustine Chike Anisha, a former vice chairman of the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA) clocks 98 this Saturday, making him the oldest living former football administrator in Nigeria.
He was a former footballer in Warri before venturing into refereeing and was among the first generation of Nigerian football referees.
Chief Jonathan Ogufere, a football administrator of long standing and president of the Sports Veterans Association of Nigeria on behalf of the body, paid glowing tributes to Anisha who in two years time will clock a century.
In 1963, Anisha travelled to London to attend refereeing course. Before then, he had ventured into administration and was elected as the vice chairman of the NFA in the 26 March 1961 election that produced Francis Albert Sodolamu Ogunmuyiwa as the chairman.
In both refereeing and administration, Anisha reportedly carved an untarnished niche for himself. According to the 1960 edition of the NFA Official Handbook, Anisha was the Honorary Secretary of the Mid-West Football Federation which embraced all the various districts associations of the region even before the official creation of Mid West State in 1963.
In a review of the football federation which he wrote, the body’s inaugural meeting was held on 3 September 1953 and was attended by delegates from three principal district associations in the area – Benin, Sapele and Warri.
In a Daily Times souvenir publication to mark the 40th edition of the then national competition, Challenge Cup, Anisha was described as ‘possibly the longest-serving top referee in Nigeria.’
He was also an honorary organiser of the then Bendel State Sports Council