By Yakubu Uzoma Muhammad
Players, coaches, and supporters of Bayelsa Queens Football Club of Yenagoa cheered when the referee blew the full-time whistle at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin, but one person only looked relieved. After all that had happened in Benin, he must have been a happy and content man.
To the surprise of media figures and supporters who would have been desperate for him to turn around the fortunes of a team that at that point couldn’t even claim to be the second best team in the nation, Robin Apreala was appointed Chairman Interim Board of the Glory Land Girls on February 14, 2020.
A year and three months later, the former Pioneer Secretary of Bayelsa United has won every trophy available in the Female Division of Nigerian Football, thanks to his sharp administrative and fatherly counsel.
Bayelsa Queens made it a hat trick of winning trophies at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium when they won the second edition of the Super Six tournament to become Nigerian Champions for the fifth time in their history. They had previously won the Flying Officers Cup in Abuja, Betsy Obaseki Cup in Benin, and the Aiteo Cup in the same venue in Benin.
One of the two state-owned football clubs that enjoys Government patronage, Bayelsa Queens, has excelled despite lot of challenges.
It was clear that his appointment as the Clubs’ Chairman was a no-brainer when things weren’t going as planned for a man who had served as the Board of Bayelsa United’s Secretary three times and as Bayelsa Queens FC interim committee chairman in 2012.
BAYELSA QUEENS FROM CHURCH HALL:
Despite being the Chairman and serving as a pastor in the Redeem Christian Church of God, Robin Apreala has presided over the club without causing any trouble. a man with a fatherly disposition and ties to the young, whom the majority of the players refer to as “Daddy”
It is clear from the way they collaborated to lead the club to its most recent achievements that his relationship with the club’s coaches has been nothing less than one of respect and corporation.
CONNECTION WITH FANS
Before this time, Pastor Robin Apreala has been a good mobilizer of the work force, State Chairman of the Recreational Services Employees Union and Extended Executive Member of the Nigerian Labour Congress in the then Old Rivers State, where he worked with the likes of Comrade Joseph Alagoa State NLC Chairman, therefore his sensitiveness to the welfare of Players, Officials and Fans did not come as a surprise. In addition, he served as the supervisory Councilor for Sports and Health in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area Council, where he Organized Inter Community Wrestling/Football matches, revived the non functional Health Centers and also established more Health Centers in Communities where there were none.
During the Military Administration of Col. Musa Komo in the Old Rivers State.
As a result of his relationship with people and with his easy going nature, it was evident in the way and manner he mobilized fans to the competition from Yenagoa to support their darling club for Eight days, thereby making them the only Football team with a recognized Supporters Club apart from Home team Edo Queens through out the duration of the Super Six Tournament.
As a result of his relationship with the Supporters and fans, they are really hopeful of making the trip to the club’s Continental engagements.
PRUDENT WITH THE FINANCES
Robin Apreala and his Board Members have been able to manage the resources provided to them by the Excellent Prosperity Government to turn the fortune of Bayelsa Queens from a midtable club to a Football club with the potential of winning the second edition of CAF Women Champions League in Morocco later this year by investing in the right places.
At the end of the first half of the last regular season, Bayelsa Queens were languishing fourth on the NWFL Group B Table and were in danger of missing out on the Super Six, having lost the likes of Itimi Mercy, Grace Salisu, Joy Jerry, Precious Vincent to National Assignments, the Chairman and the club’s recruitment team went out and got the services of Cameroon Internationals Goalkeeper Bawuo Ange Gabrielle, Midfielder Touta Evannick, and Striker Etim Edidiong.
For context, Goalkeeper Bawuo Ange Gabrielle went on to claim the Golden Glove at the aforementioned Super Six competition in Benin. Her compatriot Touta Evannick was also impressive at the competition.
For Akwa Ibom State born Etim Edidiong who went on to score 5 goals in 6 matches in the league’s second stanza.
She further proved her mettle by forming a formidable partnership with the Competition’s Best Player and Top Scorer Monday Gift who was brought in on loan from FC Robo of Lagos.
Monday Gift’s acquisition in particular proved to be a master stroke for the club after scoring 9 of the team’s 12 goals in Benin. A player that was later called up to the Super Falcons as a result of her impressive performance for Bayelsa Queens at the competition.
HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS BOSES!
The relationship he has with the Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development Hon. Dr. Daniel Igali an Olympic champion who was recently described as a square peg in a square hole by the Bayelsa State Governor Senator Douye Diri, has been nothing short of miraculous.
The Commissioner have provided everything that has been asked of him by Robin Apreala which has enabled him accomplish high level productivity. The mutual understanding and respect between them is so glaring even for the blind to see.
But everything that the team has enjoyed so far wouldn’t have been possible without his relationship with the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo whom the Governor have placed in charge sporting matters.
His Excellency Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo have been able to fulfill almost every promises made by the Government to the team, from provision of new Accomodation for the team, to Match Bonuses, Goals Bonuses and speedy approvals for games.
‘BAYELSA QUEENS ARE BLESSED TO HAVE HIM!
The responsibility given to him by the Bayelsa State Government to chair and lead the team to success is hugely appreciated by Apreala himself, and every opportunity to work with him by the Coaches and players has created a lasting impression on them because of his charming and humble nature and his ability to listen and work with everyone close to him.
The Amasoma born Pastor has been a Sports Administrator since 1988, he served as an Assistant FA Secretary in the old Rivers State and was sometime FA Secretary in the Bayelsa State Sports Council. It’s so glaring to see how he got his enormous experience of managing a club of such magnitude and it is said that.
Pastor Robin Apreala believes that everything he has been able to achieve with the club has been because of the relationship and generosity of the Prosperity Government and most importantly the Grace and kindness of God towards him.
There is a popular saying that:
“To whom much is given, much is expected”.
And he has delivered more than is expected of him and his Board members.