We had the pleasure of catching up with Bakare Abayomi Mololuwa from Houston FC in the United States’ USL League Two.Abayomi hails from Ekiti State, Nigeria and received footballing education with Super Eagles striker, Junior Ajayi at Stan Football Academy in Lagos.
Recruited by Houston FC in January 2019, Abayomi, 23 gained praise for his ability to adapt to various positions on the field of play and his cleverness with the ball at his feet.In 2018, he played for Elite Futbol Club, an affiliate of European giants, Real Madrid.
Q: A pleasant day to you. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
A: My name is Bakare Abayomi. I am a football player currently with Houston FC in the United States’ USL League Two.
I was born and raised in Lagos Nigeria. Started my football career like most Nigerian players out there; in a grassroots football academy (Stan Football Club) and went on to start my professional career in Nigeria playing for Ekiti United Football Club. My preferred position is Right Full-back but I also play as a Defensive Midfielder.
Q: What is your level of formal education?
A: I have a BSc in Urban Planning from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and by December I should get my MSc in Maritime Transportation Planning and Management at Texas Southern University.
Q: Playing and schooling, what was the combination like?
A: It was tough but I have always known what I wanted from the get-go so I was kinda [sic] mentally prepared.
Everyone especially my parents have always known that I could be a straight As student but football had all of my attention. So honestly, I would skip classes and even tests just to make it to training (not matches though).
Q: What made you decide to play in the US?
A: I wanted to play in a more organized league, a better football environment where I could grow as a player and also have a certain level of financial security. Even though when the opportunity came along it wasn’t easy to decide because I had just got an offer to play for Lobi Stars FC and most players like me in the second and third divisions wouldn’t pass on that but I still chose to move.
Q: When was the Lobi offer?
A: November 2017.
Q: When did you start taking career football seriously?
A: I have been training in the academy since I was 10 years old. Normally I would only play on the premises of my school and as soon as my Physical Education teacher back then saw me play against students who were much older and bigger than me for the first time, he immediately took me down to the training ground of one of (the) grassroots teams around and got me registered.
Q: How did playing for Stan Football Academy and Ekiti United help you prepare for playing in a better football environment, and ultimately, the more professional level?
A: Playing for Stan FC is the foundation of everything I am as a player and a person. I learnt the basics of the game there. I also learnt what it truly meant to be a team; because basically, we were all similar because of our common goal of becoming top professional footballers someday. But we were also different because of our diverse culture and upbringing, and it took years for us all to finally start learning to work together as a unit and pushing ourselves to improve our individual abilities.
Moving on to Ekiti United which was a totally different environment, I had to quickly learn to play quicker and stronger so as to remain an important member of the squad. Every day and everything was a competition, so naturally, that mental toughness grew really fast. Also, the experience of playing in front of larger spectators and playing big games at home and away are priceless.
Q: Looking forward, what’s your plan for the year?
A: Last winter I was on trial in Spain with C. D. Guadalajara, the club couldn’t offer me a contract at the time because of their financial challenges at the time but we are looking to see if we can make it happen this summer as well as exploring other opportunities in Europe this summer. By God’s grace, a great deal will materialize this summer and I’m really looking forward to playing in Europe.
Q: At 23, you are most likely not going to be considered for any age-grade Nigerian team, do you see yourself in the Super Eagles team soon?
A: Yes I do see myself playing in the Super Eagles team, it’s very possible. Nigeria is blessed with so many talented footballers and not everyone would be fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to play at the U-17, U-20 or U-23 level.
You see, it happens in the England and Brazil senior team often, players making their debut at 25 and even older. I just have to keep working on my craft and move on to bigger teams playing at the bigger stages and I’m sure I’ll get that national call-up.
Q: Who is your role model in the sport?
A: Like most people, I idolize the international players who are doing it at the highest level, but my real role models are players that I grew up playing with; who have shown me that it is possible to achieve our childhood dreams by actually doing it themselves, players like; Ajayi Junior, Kingsley Eduwo, Okereke David and Alimi Sikiru.
Q: Alimi Sikiru is doing very well on the home front with Lobi & Ajayi Junior too with Al Ahly, what can you say about the duo?
A: Myself and Junior grew up together in the academy, he has always been one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen. His techniques are not from this world and he is by far the most humble player I know. SK (Sikiru Alimi) too is in a similar mould and even though I met him through Junior years ago, we’ve all become brothers and we stay connected.
Q: What advice do you have for younger ones in Nigeria who wants to make ends meet via football?
A: I know how difficult it is to train hard with little or no support, even on an empty stomach. Just waiting on that day things would change for the better.
My advice to them:
Focus on developing your game.Don’t rush the process and just jump at anyone who comes to you with an offer. Don’t sign any documents you do not fully understand.Google is your friend! Always get your facts right before you invest in anything. Most of the lies these fake agents and scouts everywhere tell can be debunked if only you use your internet-connect phones to investigate something that affects your future rather than stay on Instagram all day.Build a good relationship as you go around playing the game. This plays a huge part in how far you will go in the game.Back up your prayers with hard and smart work.Respect the game.