By Olusola Hammed
The story of Nigeria football cannot be complete without a mention of Alhaji Aminu kurfi Balele, the fast rising football administrator whose records on and off the pitch is gradually dwarfing the achievements of many who have spent over two decades in the corridors of football with virtually nothing to show for it.
As senior special adviser to the former executive governor of Katsina state Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari, Balele who was also a former chairman of Katsina united, is the brain behind the rising profile of Katsina United as one of the emerging super powers of Nigeria football.
His deep administrative manoeuvrings around the football circle helped to lift the Changi boys from their comfort zone in the NNL to the Nigeria professional football league, NPFL, after they finished as league leaders in the 2016 season before going on to win the NNL Super 4 competition, a result that catapulted them to the Apex league in the country.
Known for his forthrightness, admired for his doggedness and respected for his resilience, Dan Arewa as he is fondly called by his admirers is gradually winning souls from all sectors of the sporting fraternity. Many remember with excitement, the role he played in turning Katsina United into a brand that is now talked about, not only in Nigeria but in the whole of Africa.
He was the brain behind the quick completion of the Muhammadu Dikko stadium in Katsina state and used his influence to get the Golden Eaglets camped in Katsina on their way to winning the 2015 FIFA Under 17 World Cup in Chile.
That in itself, was a landmark achievement that will remain indelible in the hearts of the good people of Katsina state for years to come.
This easy going and very unassuming administrator, guided the Under-15 team of Katsina United to back to back finals of the LMC/NPFL Under-15 features and was also on hand to guide Katsina feeders to the quarter final of the AITEO Cup. All these achievements came without anyone blowing his trumpet.
In 2018, Aminu Kurfi once again applied his administrative ingenuity by single handedly convincing the executive governor of Katsina state, his excellency, Aminu Bello Masari to host the NFF Extraordinary congress.
This happened at a time when Nigeria football was groaning in the mud of crisis and uncertainty.
Katsina state government hosted over five hundred football stakeholders, among them, 44 delegates, in what turned out the best organised NFF Election ever held in the history of Association football in Nigeria.
This was the first time in the history of NFF elections that the winners and losers shook hands in agreement that the process was indeed very free and fair.
Despite his goodwill, this man has his few regrets as the NFF have failed to fulfil two key promises made to the Katsina state government on the eve of the 2018 election.
Firstly, they promised to build the first FA secretariate in the Katsina state capital and secondly, they made a special promise to the emir of Daura, Faruk Umar Faruk, that they will bring one of the FIFA Goal projects assigned to Nigeria, to the home of president Mohammadu Buhari.
Both promises have not been met till date as there are no assurances of any sort from the eggheads in the football house.
Balele is not deterred by these setbacks, as he has continued to contribute his quota to the development of football in the state and Nigeria in general.
Voted Katsina state FA chairman in 2019, this erodite and immensely intelligent politician who is well respected by the government and people of Katsina state for his rising profile as a key stakeholder in Nigeria football, was at the forefront of Nigeria’s participation at the 2018 World Cup in Russia where he helped Nigeria football federation officials and fans to sort out important logistics before and during the competition.
He also singlehandedly secured Max Airline for the NFF to help airlift the Super Eagles of Nigeria to Sfax for a crucial world cup qualifier with Libya in October 2018, and later Maseru for the return leg of a double header with Lesotho just last year.
He is the peace maker, a man who has continued to preach peace among football stakeholders. His philanthropic hand has touched the young and old in all the villages and towns of Katsina state and environs. He has touched lives and has not stopped doing his best in helping humanity.
Loved by the media, appreciated by the footballers, respected by club owners and other stakeholders and adored by the fans, Aminu Kurfi will always be remembered as the man who discovered the jewel or Katsina United, the pride of the Changi boys and a player that all football lovers in the state will love to call their beloved, he is Destiny Ashadi or better still, the Katsina Diamond.