In this interview with SODIQ OYELEKE, Big Brother Naija host, Obi-Uchendu Chukwuebuka, popularly known as Ebuka, gives reasons for dumping sports for entertainment
Did you take part in sports when you were young?
Yes, I played a bit of football but I played basketball more. I was a member of my school’s basketball team.
Well, I started out with football. But at a point, I started growing tall in school. Later, people told me that as a tall guy, why didn’t I go out to play basketball. So, I tried.But I’m a fan of football. I am also a huge fan of table tennis.
Have you ever gotten into trouble playing football?
Yes while I was growing up and was playing street football. Many times, I injured myself and my mum asked me what happened and I tried to dodge the questions; and you get beaten because of the injuries.
Why did you venture into entertainment and not sports?
I did not venture into sports because I am not talented in the ones I mentioned earlier. So, I felt there was no point wasting my time doing something that I knew I wasn’t good at. But I wish I could.
Which is your favourite team?
My favourite team is the Super Eagles. I am a Nigerian and I am proud of them.
If you are a coach and you are to pick your best 11 all stars, who would you select?
I am going to be biased picking Super Eagles players because they are our own. Anyway, I won’t be too biased with the teams I love. For goalkeeper, I still think Manchester United’s David De Gea is the best in the world even though he had a terrible time last season. For midfielders, I am going to throw in Wilfred Ndidi, considering his performance at Leicester City last season and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. In attack, of course, there is a Lionel Messi and Crisitiano Ronaldo. They will fight it out between each other. Both of them have been acknowledged by UEFA to be the best players. I need defenders, and probably the Liverpool guys – Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander, Joel Matip, Joel Robertson – because they had a great season actually.
At present, who do you think is the most exciting African footballer at the moment?
I will say Sadio Mane, maybe. He has been consistent and he helped his team reach the final at the 2019 AFCON. He was also a joint goal scorer in the Premier League last season. For Mohammed Sallah, I am not really sure of how I feel about him right now, especially after the Nations Cup, where they were knocked out of the competition at an unexpected stage. However, he is not doing badly at club level. Riyadh Mahrez scored against Nigeria so he should get out (laughs). However, he has proven himself to be one of the good players in Africa. He is also doing a great job for his club side, Manchester City.
Who is the biggest sports personality that you have met?
I have met a lot of people. But I am going to keep it patriotic. I will choose Jay Jay Okocha.
For you, is there anything inspiring about Okocha?
Yes, he is just phenomenal. He played football at a time when money was just coming into the game and other people started getting distracted by the money. In spite of all the distractions, he still had a great career. He was very talented and gifted naturally. He could have taken that for granted, but he worked very hard, played into his 30s and won gold medal for his country at Atlanta ‘96 Olympics. I love his hard work and love for the game.
Do you still partake in sports or has BBNaija taken over?
These days, I have not been participating in sports that much.
So, haven’t you missed your active sports days?
I used to play basketball quite often until about last year. I no longer play often now. I used to swim a lot but I have not for a while. These are the two sports that I probably have missed.
How do you see parents still shielding their kids from partaking in sports?
I think that is just completely strange. The world has moved on from a place where you dictate to your kids what to do. Also, sport is an amazing career to venture into. In my view, whatever sports you like, you should be allowed to participate in them.
Would you allow your kids to partake in sports?
I look forward to my kids getting involved in sports. I hope they can be professionals in whatever they are good at. I have no problems with that at all.
Which sports would you love your kids to partake in?
I love table tennis a lot. It is one of my favourite sports. Football, of course, is good too. We know how engaging it is as well.
Which club do you support?
I support Manchester United.
You earlier said your first eleven attackers would be Ronaldo and Messi. Who do you prefer more among them?
I prefer Cristiano Ronaldo, who currently plays for Juventus, after having successful careers at Manchester United and Real Madrid.
It doesn’t take away the fact that Messi is an unbelievable footballer. But there is something I like about someone who worked so hard to get to where they are. As a supporter of Manchester United, I saw how raw he (Ronaldo) was when he joined the team and how he worked hard to get to where he is.