Ex footballer and Solynta ambassador,Finidi George have in recent times shown interest in speaking up about major social issues in Nigeria. In this interview he speaks about his career, how it all started and what he is passionate about right now.
Q1. Tell us about your experience of growing up.
I came from a poor background, we were not the richest of families, but we could make ends means. Like every poor family, you try to do your best. My mum was a petty trader and my father a civil servant. Life was not that easy for me, we were eleven in number, myself and ten siblings. These days people don’t do that anymore but back then the more children you had, the more respectable you were in the society. I grew up in an era where things were hard,but we coped.
Q2. Tell us about your early football career in Nigeria.
I started playing street football back then with friends.When I knew football was something that could be part of my life was when I joined my two brothers who were playing for a club called Nigeria Energy Football Club. One Saturday they were going for training and I asked if I could join them. When we got there, I think a player was missing and the coach asked my brother if I could play football. They said yes but they didn’t really know how well I could play and that I could meet up with the other players. I played with my bare foot without football shoes and I did well. I then went to play for NNPC Football Club, Sharks Football Club of Port Harcourt and Calabar Rovers.
Q3. What came next when you moved to Europe to pursue your career?
Nothing really special, I was invited for trials in Ajax of Amsterdam .
I went to the embassy and got my visa and that was how I flew out of the country to Amsterdam. I did 6 weeks camp training and was given a two years contractand that was how my international career started. My first year was learning how to adapt to their system, the life, culture and everything else. I established myself as a good player and everybody was talking about me, the press, media, fans singing my name saying ‘‘this guy from Africa is very good, very humble and plays very well”. I spent three seasons at Ajax before playing in Spain.
Q4. What was the highlight of your career?
I will say the highlight of my career would be winning the Nations Cup and helping Nigeria qualify for the first timefor the World Cup in 1994!
Q5. What was your experience of power growing up?
We always had shortage of power growing up. Whenever the power went off, everybody was sad, whenever it cameback we were joyful. It was off and on. It was a really sad experience in that part. Sometimes we used a coal iron for our clothes before going to school.
Q7.After your football career, what motivated you to want to solve the power problem above any other cause?
For the more than twenty something years in Europe, I had never seen power shortage. Having enjoyed all my time with electricity, I think its time to educate people to make sure they understand that they can have 24 hours electricity if they want to. I think people will be enlightened to know that we have the resources to really have 24hrs light.
Q8. Why do you think Solar is the solution?
I think Solar is the solution because I have a solar system at home and enjoy 24 hours power every day. Nigeria is a place where we have sunlight in abundance. In my own case, I have solar at home which is not like the generator that pollutes the environment, its noiseless and gives you energy .I think people should save their money to go solar and be power liberated, so they can do what they love with ease. They can listen to radio, tv, charge their phones and more with ease.
Q9. What are you doing in practical terms to help?
Well that is why I am in joint partnership with Solynta Energy to speak on it and make people aware that there is an alternative and that they can grab the bull by thehorn and do what is good for their family. Sadly, I cannot buy solar for everyone, but I can speak on it and let people be aware of it because the best alternative right now is solar. I am enjoying it and I want others to experience it too.
Q10. What do you hope to achieve?
I hope to make people aware about solar energy and that there is an affordable way they can get connected with Solynta’s Zero Deposit Down Plan. With this I hope to see more roofs with solar panels and people able to have 24 hours power supply.
Q11. What other causes are you passionate about?
Well, I am also passionate about our health system in the country, we need to get that in order. We see a lot of people traveling out for medicals/checkup which I think if we have good facilities and experts in the country it will save lives and save us a lot of money. People are spending a lot of money outside the country that could improving our situation at home.
Q12. What do you do for fun?
For fun I go to the beach when the weather is great, and I also like playing soccer with ex-players in my city.