The sleepy town of Anyingba in Kogi state was unknown to an average Nigerian until the emergence of Babanawa Football Club in the late 1990s.
The participation of the club in the Nigeria National Division one league compelled teams from all parts of the country to travel to Anyingba to honour their league matches, which always got attention of the press weekly because of their style of play.
Even before the coming of the Kogi State university to the town, Anyingba was synonymous with football.
The club went dramatically into ‘extinction’ in the 2011 season after missing their first three matches of the season.
Indigenes of Anyingba are now agitating the return of the club that brought them to national limelight.
But the son of the founder of the club Babangida Suleiman in an exclusive interview withnewstimesafrica said the club is not dead but undergoing surgical rebirth and promised that they would return to active football next season in the Amateur division.
He said his father’s last wish is to see the rebirth of the club and that he would accomplish it with pride.
How Babanawa FC started
The acronym Babanawa, was carved out from the first name of Babangida Suleiman, the first son of Col. Ahmadu Usman Suleiman (Rtd), the founder of the club.
His passion for the round leather game and love for the youths propelled his return from his base in Kaduna where he was serving as a military officer to his Home town Anyingba to setup Babanawa football club.
But his military could not give him the time to run the club; he therefore transferred the club’s day to day running to Babangida, and only offered advice when consulted.
From the little resources Col. Usman had, he funded the club, with the help of contributions from his friends and well-wishers.
The club always made money selling players at the end of every season and during mid-season transfers.
This way, players never minded how much they got from the club but concentrated of attracting the attention of bigger clubs with brilliant football display.
This characteristics made admirers of the club nickname it “the reservoirs”.
There was no known source of revenue for club but in the selling of players.
How the dream faded
In 2003, the team was relegated to the amateur league under “suspicious” circumstances involving player ineligibility.
The club dragged the Nigeria Football League (NFL) to court to protest this decision and lost in court.
Instead of joining the lower division, they opted out of NFL league and remained inactive as a club for another two years.
In 2005, Babanawa Football club came back to life after acquiring Globe Stars FC and relocated to Lagos, where they played they played their home games at the Onikan Stadium.
In 2006 they relocated Gboko and later Makurdi before returning to Kogi State for the 2007 season. They withdrew from the League in the 2011 season after not making their first three games.
Plans to return
Babangida Suleiman is optimistic the club would return next season, but ruled out buying a slot to join the big league.
He said they would start from the amateur rank and work their way to the top again.
“We are ready to return to football again after a long layoff,” Babangida told newstimesafrica
“But this time around we want to start from the scratch, by this I mean we are going to start with the amateur league. Already we have started scouting for potential players from the hinterlands and as soon as we are ready to make a move you will be the first to know”
Again we are not going to adopt our former style; that is depending on the sale of players for survival, rather we are going to have sponsors who are ready to invest in the future of the team.