I'VE BEEN AN ARSENAL SUPPORTER SINCE 1960 - 73-YEAR-OLD DAWODU
At 73, Adeshina Dawodu is not ready to retire yet as a squash player. The lawyer tells 'TANA AIYEJINA about his love for sports, the poor state of squash and of course his first love- Arsenal
I am Alhaji Adeshina Dawodu, a legal practitioner and sportsman. I will be 74-year-old in January, 2012. I am more proficient in squash but I play tennis, table tennis, badminton, darts and billiards. I have added swimming as well but I am not yet proficient because I just started. I am very good in the others that I stated earlier. I have been a sportsman all my life. I played football and I was involved in athletics. I was in London this year for the Olympics and I watched the 100m final won by Usain Bolt.
Swimming at 73
Yes, it's never too late; it depends on your determination and interest. In fact if I had concentrated so much on it, I would have been a better swimmer now. I started a few months ago and in between, I travelled for about two months. I do swim now; I float very well.
I joined the squash section of the Lagos Country Club in 1980. As someone who was involved in sports right from school, a friend of mine, late Victor Abebe, introduced me to squash. He was then the chairman of squash section of LCC. So, I was fascinated by the game and I have been playing it to keep fit. I don't usually get involved in competitions. I am just in it for recreation. Most of the top players now passed through us. It's a game of fitness and as you are growing older you will be declining. The technique is still there but in terms of fitness the young ones are better than you. However, you can still teach them some tricks, which I do occasionally.
It's funny and amazing. I really have to be grateful to God. I've never been stressed, I play squash easily. It's a very interesting game. It's like opium, once you are addicted, you want to play it everyday. When I travelled out for three months, it was like a part of me was off because I didn't play squash. As soon as I came down, I went to play.
State of squash
We discussed this issue sometime ago and it's rather unfortunate. The problem in squash is due to lack of motivation. The squash federation is in doldrums; they are not active. It appears typical of Nigerians; they like to be seen as chairman of this and president of that. There is no commitment and it is quite unfortunate that the younger ones are not motivated. Squash should be introduced to kids at an early stage. That is why they excel overseas; the game is introduced to children before they are nine. The kids must have interest before they can continue playing the game.
I am not happy with the state of sports and it has to do with our administrators. They are not dedicated. You can see this from the scandals we read about. In the past, we were known globally for short distance races just like the Jamaicans today. Where are we now? The athletes are sponsoring themselves. In England, athletes are given training grants. Where does the money government allocates to athletes go? Same thing goes for football. How can the players give their best when you don't treat them right? So, it is the fault of the administrators. There is corruption everywhere, and as long as we have this crop of administrators there, there is no way forward for sports in this country. When we were young, we used to go to Race Course for sports but show me an open space in Lagos today for sports activities. The estate behind Lagos Country Club belonged to LCC. It was taken over by (Lateef) Jakande for recreational purposes but when the military came, they dismantled it. The next thing we saw was that they started carving the place for themselves and started building houses there. I know there is need for housing but you must make provision for recreation. You cannot develop sports unless there is a structure. The kids now play football on the streets. These administrators travel overseas and see how things are done but they don't implement them here. We used to have Race Course for sports activities before the military came and turned it to a concrete jungle. It is rubbish they have there now. It's ridiculous. Apart from the Police College, there are no sports facilities in Ikeja. But everything there is for the police; you can't just go in and start playing games. There is no structure on the ground. They must start thinking seriously. Look at the league; privatise it and give clubs ultimatum to build their own stadia like it's done abroad. But our administrators are only there for their pockets. During international events, officials are three times more than the athletes because everybody wants to collect estacode. And they don't even pay the athletes their own allowances. And then you blame the athletes that they are not patriotic. Are the administrators patriotic themselves?
I don't see myself leaving squash and the other games I play. It surprises some of my friends that I am still into sports. I believe squash is the easiest game if you play by the rules. I have never had injuries because I play safe. When I play the young players, I allow them to win because if you want to struggle with them, they might hit you with the racket because they don't know the rules yet. I am not thinking of retirement yet. I would keep playing as far as I am fit.
I don't do anything in excess. I don't drink any more, even when I used to drink, I did it moderately. I do everything in moderation. I am a socialite and I make sure I create time for recreation. I don't eat much; once or twice daily. But I eat balanced diet.
I don't womanise. When you are a young man, you behave like a young man but I am a very choosy person. Even as a young person, it was one at a time.
I have always been an Arsenal supporter since 1960 when I went to England. All my children are supporters; we are Arsenal family and we are going to remain Arsenal forever; Gunners for life. Nobody is happy that they have not won a trophy in a long while. I can understand when they were building the new stadium (Emirates). But after that, they are not buying good players. They are selling their good players and replacing them with mediocres. But that won't make me leave the club. If you are a supporter of a club, you die with the club.
All my children are into sports too. They are all in England. My second son is into body building and he has won many accolades internationally. He has a world-class gym in England. The girls are good swimmers. I introduced them into it. The girls are married but they still keep fit.