“The academy does not even have medical facilities, and that was why I was sent out to go treat myself”
A young footballer John Kelechi Onuoha, has revealed that the club director of Diamond Football Academy gave him a sum of N2000 to go treat himself in a chemist after he was brutalized on Saturday May 2, 2020 during a secret training in Umuahia Abia State.
According to his story which was circulated via the Nigeria Sports Centre whatsapp platform, John disclosed that he only made a comment of “3 minutes remain o” during the training, when the club manager invited him over to repeat what he said on the field of play.
After repeating it, he was subjected to series of heavy blow and beating from the football coach turned boxer, leading to bleeding and bruises on his mouth and face. He further informed that the coach used bamboo stick to beat him and also instructed him to roll on the field as further punishment for the comment which he made to his fellow players alerting them of their need to equalize before the expiration of 3 minutes.
When contacted, John Onuoha told Sports Intelligence Magazine that he was given the sum of N2000 by the club director after the beating to go treat himself on that day, and no one from the club has further contacted him to know about his welfare.
The 21-year-old who spoke to us on phone further told Sports Intelligence Magazine that as at time of responding to our call today, he just returned from receiving treatment and he had since been having sleepless night following severe pains gotten from the brutal attack by Coach Chris on the said day.
When asked why the club could not give him first aid treatment after the attack, rather than giving him N2000 to go treat himself, John said: “The academy does not even have medical facilities, and that was why I was sent out to go treat myself”.
“Moreover, even if they have medical facilities, they would not have treated me because I was treated like a slave even before the time I was given the sum of N2000 to go treat myself”
Sports Intelligence Magazine sought to know why there was training on that Saturday May 2, when football authorities had suspended football activities nationwide and lockdown observed due to the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic. John's reply was:
“We (players) did not decide to train on our own, it was the academy that gave us that directive and we obeyed” “The management knows there was stay-at-home order, but we were taken to Ahieke to train because the pitch is inside and no one can see us while we are training”.
“Moreover, our main stadium is under construction and that gave us further reason to have a secret training where government authorities will not see us” he added.
Efforts made to get the side of the Club director of Diamond Football Academy via phone proved abortive, as the man who picked the call replied “I am the brother to the club owner and I would convey your message to him when he arrives”.
Subsequent calls made by this writer was rejected, as it became obvious that management was not interested in talking to the press on the said issue.
However, as at midday John Onuoha contacted Sports Intelligence Magazine to inform us that he has decided to forgive the Coach and at such drop the case. As his parents and relatives advised him to drop the case.
Interestingly, his decision to rescind and drop the case came as at when reports reaching Sports Intelligence Magazine confirmed that the players Union has waded into the matter and Diamond Football Academy were at the verge of being sanctioned for such inhumane act.
When asked if he was compensated before he decided to drop the case, John told Sports Intelligence Magazine that the club gave him additional N10, 000 today for compensation and this is a reason he has decided to drop the case.
Sources from Umuahia who spoke to Sports Intelligence Magazine on grounds of anonymity informed us that, ever since Super Eagles Star Samuel Chukwueze emerged from Diamond Football Academy there has been desperate desire by young footballers in that region to play with the academy, not minding what it takes .
Perhaps, John who probably did not want to jeopardize his chances of becoming a star and play abroad through the academy opted to collect an additional sum of N10,000 and bury the ugly incident so he could still be in the good book of club director Hon. Martin Ikechukwu Apugo while keeping his Europe dream alive.
When John was asked via whatsapp chat if his decision to forgive was influenced by his hope of someday travelling abroad to play through the club, John's reply was:
“Fighting with your club in court is not a sign of loyalty and love for the team". "He apologized and was truly sorry for his actions, he also accepted to take up all my treatment bills, So I spoke with my parents and I think its in good interest of both the team and my teammates we drop the charges”
Unfortunately, it is a big shame that physical attack on a player by a football coach is coming from one of Nigeria’s supposed football academy where current Super Eagles star Samuel Chukwueze emerged from. Stakeholders in football had condemned the act arguing that an academy that was supposed to be a nurturing ground for footballers is now being turned to a boxing ring.