Bennett Obeya, known to his music fans at PDSTRN solidified his status on the Nigerian rap scene by winning the 8th Hennessy Artistry VS Class Competition in June, 2022. The musician talks about his dad’s desire to see him pursue football, his favourite Nigerian player and more in this interview with PETER AKINBO.
Did you participate in any sports growing up?
Yes, I did. I actually played basketball and soccer at school. I played basketball on the school team then while my soccer was just for my personal entertainment.
Our basketball team actually went for some competitions but we didn’t win any back then, we were quite average.
Were you good at either or both?
My ability in soccer was like a 6/10 while my basketball was around a 7.5.
Was there a point where you felt you could pursue a career in sports?
There wasn’t really a time like that. The crazy thing was my dad always wanted me to do sports if it was not academics. I remember he got me first pair of soccer cleats when he saw that I was showing interests in sports and he encouraged it because back in the day, in his time, he used to be a boxer.
So, he tried to do ‘Project Mbappe’ with me back then, he really wanted me to do sports, but I let him know I just wanted to do it for entertainment back then, nothing serious.
What’s your favourite sport to watch?
My favourite sport to watch is American football, I follow the NFL.
Do you have a favourite team?
My favourite team is the Kansas City Chiefs.
Most Nigerians watch soccer or basketball, why American football?
I think I am the biggest American football fan I know in Nigeria. I just love everything about the sport, the plays, tactics, the game, the touchdown celebration, the cheerleaders, and there are movies about the sport that create a deep understanding of the teams in the National Football League.
Honestly, I just really love the sport and when I have a son, I am going to introduce him to the sport, do a ‘Project Mbappe’ with him.
Who’s your favourite player in the NFL?
Right now, my favourite player is Patrick Mahomes; he plays as a quarter-back for the Kansas City Chiefs. From the moment he came on to the scene, he has been phenomenal. He’s fast, he knows how to throw, his hand-eye coordination is awesome. He peaked really early unlike other quarterbacks who peaked in their 30s like Tom Brady, Mahomes though is still 27, so he still has time to dominate.
Who is your favourite Super Eagles player of all time?
For me, it’s always been Taribo West. That man was a beast, a world class defender, the way he controls his area in the pitch. In all the games I watched of Taribo, he was always the dominating force on the field.
Most people call names like Daniel Amokachi or Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, but Taribo West was doing really good work in the mark and I feel that is not appreciated enough by the fans who watch the game. Thierry Henry also said it one time about how much trouble Taribo West gave him, that man was unplayable.
Danny Shittu is another Nigerian player I really like with the way he played for the Eagles back then. I just had a love for the centre backs who did the dirty work back then of preventing the team from conceding goals.
What do you think of sports in Nigeria in general?
Honestly, I have always felt like it could be better. I think we really need to do better in the area of sports in the country. There are a lot of talented phenomenal athletes in this country who are just looking for a chance to play and represent Nigeria but because of the state of the sports, many of them travel out and represent other countries. If we look at the World Cup in Qatar for example, the Super Eagles are not going to the competition but there are a lot of Nigerians who will be at the tournament playing for other teams like Karim Adeyemi for Germany and David Alaba for Austria.
It has now become a norm for Nigerian athletes to leave the country, and play sports for other countries. I know a lot of young guys and girls who are always going to the National Stadium in Surulere showcasing their talents in the hopes that scouts see them and get them out of the country. If the Ministry of Sports in Nigeria could take these athletes as seriously as they take themselves, there will be massive change. Nigerians just want to work, we just want to do what we can to make a name for ourselves.
Two weeks ago, I saw a video of a girl who was skating in Ibadan, and her board was seized, and I think Nigeria needs to encourage the kids and youths more because in other countries, kids feed their families with these tournaments. I think the sports ministry should do a better job, we hear of corruption in the ministry all the time too.
If we look at someone like Tobi Amusan, she broke the world record in hurdles and is now Nigeria’s golden egg, but I am pretty sure when she was on the come up, she did not get the level of support she needed from Nigeria. There’s a lot of changes that need to be done, there’s a lot of restructuring that should take place.
Is there any part of you that has ever regretted not pursuing a career in sports?
Not at all, since the beginning, any sports I ever did, I always knew it was purely recreational; I never thought of a career in it. I did not think I would use it to feed myself or my family.