innocent peter

Footballing Aspirations of a Nigerian Student in the UK


I got into the United Kingdom at the age of 25, and that was after over a decade of attempting to gain entry into the United Kingdom without success. Right from when I was 12, I was already a member of a football academy in my country and had attended screenings and scouting calls on numerous occasions. On some occasions, I wasn’t picked, but on 3 occasions, I was fortunate enough to be selected and given the hope of being taken to Europe, but all to no success.

I can remember having to travel with my mother from Uyo, in Akwa Ibom state Nigeria, to the capital city Abuja; a 658.2km journey where were had to sit 11 hours on a bus through bad roads and portholes, just to enable me to attend a football scout screening. Playing in the UK was a dream, and I was ready to begin anywhere, even in the local league. But it never really worked out. As I grew, dreams changed, but my love for football didn’t.

At the age of 25, an age too old to be on the scouting radar of football teams, I finally got a visa to the UK; this time, to study. My dream was finally fulfilled, but not the way I would have loved it. The University College Birmingham was the destination, and International Relations was the course of study. My course of study was far apart from my football passion, but at that point, I had given up on professional football hopes. At 25, I got into a city that lives, talks, and breathes football; Birmingham.



With a standard football club and surrounded by top football clubs like Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa, and West Brom, I was finally faced with the opportunities I had always wanted. But at the very wrong time. No football club was interested in giving a 25-year-old an opportunity to start life, and I was not ready to fake my age for anything. So I gave up on playing football, but Birmingham gave me more football opportunities. Now a graduate of International Relations, I hope to return to the University College Birmingham; this time, to study football.

While studying at the university, I was exposed to so many opportunities in the sport. I was made to console myself with the fact that though I may not get to fulfill my dreams of scoring goals and putting smiles on the face of fans, I can still make an impact in the sport through sports management and coaching. Having invested £44m in flagship facilities which include sport, the University College Birmingham is a right step for anyone who would want to begin a journey in football management.



A beautiful thing about the university is that it partners with the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA), and this gives students the opportunity of being a CIMSPA member upon enrolment in the Sports management course. The university campus also has world-class sports facilities such as a Human Performance Centre, a cutting-edge gym, and sports injury and massage clinics. Optionally, I could also go for the Football Business Management course. A degree in this field will help me work with football clubs and organizations to learn football management and leadership; thereby preparing me for various football opportunities, including giving me an opportunity to develop my community and help young kids not to make the mistake I made, and have the kind of opportunities I never had.

Written by Innocent Peter Udoabah