Lagos — The ex-Super Eagles side, which comprised of Jay Jay Okocha, Daniel Amokachi, Kanu Nwankwo, Celestine Babayaro, Teslim Fatusi, Jonathan Akpoborie and the likes, continued to subject their opponent to a torrid experience during the match, with Saka, the tooth-gap popular Nigerian Comedian toiling throughout the period he played.
At some point, Saka, in his theatrical gesture turned the encountered into a handball game, when he managed to pick the ball and headed towards the ex-Super Eagles net but to no avail. That act brought general laughter both from the spectators and all the players on the soft pitch of the Campus Mini Stadium at Victoria Island, in Lagos.
If the ex -Super Eagles were to compete on a movie scene or do a stage performance with the likes of Segun Arinze, MI, Sound Sultan, Fred Amata, Nnonso, who all played as the opponent, Okocha who had a field day during the match would have been reduced to a mere spectator.
It was December 1st, the day set aside as World AIDS Day, by the United Nation worldwide to increase awareness on the fight against the dreaded disease which defies all cure. Government across the globe, especially in Africa, Private Organizations and Philanthropists use the day to not only remind people on the danger of the disease but to also fight the problem of discrimination faced by those suffering from it.
Friends Africa's Ambassador, Emmanuel Babayaro, an ex-Super Eagle himself organized the friendly match featuring ex-Super Eagles on one side and Nollywood Stars as well as Nigerian Musicians on other side.
The ex-Super Eagles wore general white while the Nollywood stars wore red, with inscriptions "Play to Zero" on the front while the back of the jersey of both teams were inscribed with "Zero Stigma, Zero HIV, and Zero Discrimination," which was as the focus of the event.
What informed the decision to organize the match according to Emmanuel Babayaro was to tell the world that AIDS victims need not suffer from stigmatization or discrimination but always deserve a shoulder to lean on.
"When Friends Africa asked me to be their Ambassador, I first of all inquire about their project, and I was told that AIDS victims are facing issues of discrimination, as someone who will champion such a cause the first thought that came to my mind was to invite ex-Super Eagles and Nollywood Stars to tell the world that people living with HIV/AIDS are human beings like every one of us and deserve our respect, recognition, love and care."
Daniel Amokachi, popularly referred to as "The Bull" was among the players that answered Babayaro's call and according to him it is the responsibility of every able bodied person to give a helping hand to those carrying the disease whenever such call is made.
"That is why we are gathered here to show the world that you cannot contact this disease by merely interacting with the affected people, and I am happy that Emmanuel Babayaro has succeeded in bringing us together, as you can see, the people suffering from this disease are having a good time and they have forgotten about their ordeals."
On his part, Nollywood star, Segun Arinze described the effort "as a great and fantastic cause" saying "everybody should support it and I think it makes sense, let's come out and tell people that people living with HIV/AIDS are human beings."
He however urged government to do more in the fight against the disease.
Emmanuel Babayaro's more famous sibling, Celestine, the former Chelsea and Newcastle United defender was part of the awareness building match. He also lent his voice to the victims of the disease commented thus, "having HIV/AIDS is not the end of the world, there are quite a number of drugs available to help them live a normal life, it is not fair to stop interacting, eating or shaking hands with them. Gathering here as ex- Super Eagles, Nollywood Stars is part of the effort we are making to tell the world that they need our love."
Present at the occasion, as special guest of honour, former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) spoke on why he graced the occasion.
"Being a board member of Friends Africa, it is my duty and responsibility to be part of this...... and say well done to the Chief Executive of Friends Africa for organizing this event on World AIDS Day."
He further urged that it is not appropriate for the society to keep them aside, but instead "they should be considered as part and parcel of the society, that is why I came to give support to Friends Africa in order to highlight the aim of this day."
Gowon however warned that the world cannot win the fight against HIV/AIDS as long as there are people who will not take the precaution that is expected.
"I don't think we can eradicate AIDS 100% throughout the world as long as there are people who will not take the precaution that is expected."
Christian James, who spoke on behalf of people living with the disease at the event expressed delight saying "if only people will be showing such good example by showing love and care to people living with AIDS, many of us will be happy."
Expectedly, the match ended 7-3 in favour of the retired Super Eagles players with former Eagles captain, Austin Jay Jay Okocha emerging the highest goal scorer with four goals.