"My name is Akeboli Chance Afolayan, but my friends call me Boli for short. I was born in Nigeria to a poor family in which my father worked and my mother looked after me and my three siblings. I'm the oldest child to grace my family and all I want to do is make a name for myself in the world. The only way I can do that is through the one thing that I love most - football."
That was it. I had finally received my initial coaching badges meaning that I could once and for all make a mark on the world as a football manager. At the age of 26, I was in the eyes of many both too young and too inexperienced to pave my way through the football world and make a significant impact. I dismounted the stage in style, pulling my tie up to my collar as I didn't want to look slovenly. My mother and father were sat at a round table in front of me a long with my two sisters, Faith and Nnamdi, and my brother, Amabi. They were all grinning from ear to ear and I could almost feel their pride radiating from them as I took my seat at the table.
'Well done Boli, you're certainly surpassing your old man.' My father had a certain pain in his voice. He had toiled long and hard every day for the last thirty years so that he could initially have a family, and then continue to provide for them. The wear of everyday live was evident on his skin and his soul and he often turned to alcohol when he was alone to make himself relax. Nevertheless, he was proud of his son and that meant more than anything.
My peers continued to rise to the stage to receive their badges and certificates to the same thunderous applause from their friends and family. Everyone had come incredibly far considering that most of us were from an underprivileged background.
I rose from my chair and walked towards the bathroom, not paying any attention to the hustle and bustle around me. I needed to piss, which was something that always seemed to sneak up on me when I was nervous. I walked to the urinal and relieved myself as my friend Farai walked through the door and stood next to me, relieving his nerves as well.
'So, what are your plans now then?' he said as he shook off any excess urine.
'I haven't thought this far ahead Farai. I didn't even think I would get my badges.'
'Well in my opinion there's no point staying here Boli. You're not going to make any sort of a name for yourself in Nigeria, that's for sure. Go travelling, I know you have money that your father has saved for you. Find yourself, and most importantly, find somewhere to carve your mark.'
Farai washed his hands and left, leaving me to my thoughts. I walked over to the wash basin and ran the cold water, washing my hands and splashing my face. I looked into the mirror and looked over my appearance. I had nappy black hair that was cut well by my mother and hazelnut brown eyes that reflected everything around them. Could I make it in the footballing world?
I finished up and returned to my seat as the entertainment for the night began. I had a lump in the back of my throat and knew that the impending question I had for my father would not go down well. My head was a sea of thoughts, but I knew that Farai was right and I needed to get out of Nigeria, I needed to travel and find not only myself but somewhere I could make a name for myself.
'Pa, I need to speak to you. Could we go outside?'
My father looked at me, his eyes glimmering hopefully. We both rose from our seats and proceeded outside of the venue, where my father leaned against the wall and lit a cigarette with a box of matches he had stuffed on the inside of his jacket pocket.
'The answer is yes.' he boomed, without even taking his eyes off the match that he had so carelessly discarded on the floor in front of him.
'How did you even know what I was going to ask?'
'You forget that I have raised you from a child, Akeboli. You have had a good education and you have chosen your path in life. I know exactly what it is you want, and I am not going to stand in your way. You will make something of yourself, I know it, and I think that you deserve to do whatever you want, wherever you want. I will give you your money in the morning, and then it is up to you what you do with it.'
I stepped forward and hugged my father, the first time I had done such a thing since I was a young boy and had grazed my knee playing football with boys twice my age. I rested my chin on his shoulder, even though I was a good couple of inches taller than him, with nothing but the thoughts of my future clouding my mind.