Experienced goalkeeper Paul Godwin in this interview speaks about his stint with Enyimba FC of Aba, his departure from the Peoples Elephants and his future plans.
It’s always a pleasure speaking with you. I’d start by asking you how it feels to be leaving Enyimba, after four years and many memories.
Well, this is football for you. One minute you’re in and the next minute, you’re out. I have had many good memories throughout my stay here and I will always remember my time with Enyimba. I don’t feel good or bad. I just know that this is the way it is in football. The club and I feel that this is the best time for me to leave and I accept it.
You were key to Enyimba’s CAF Champions League progress in 2011. I recall the way the Moroccan people hailed you after two fantastic performances against Raja Casablanca and Wydad. The Champions League has begun again and you are leaving, do you wish you had been given more time to remain in the team?
You know, I can’t wish for this or wish for that. Yes, I had a good Champions League campaign in 2011 and I remember Morocco, but at this point I believe Enyimba has a lot of good goalkeepers who can help the team go far in the tournament. Femi (Thomas), Ejiogu (Chijioke) and Ocheje (Moses) are all very good keepers who can help the team do well. Mine now is just to wish the team well in the competition and hope that they go very far.
We wish you well too, Paul. What is next for you now?
Well, what is next for me is that I will give my best to continue my career as a goalkeeper. There are always opportunities out there and one must work hard to get them. So if I work hard and remain fit, I believe you will see me again very soon in one of the teams.
In one of the teams and doing very well.
Having played for a number of Glo Premier League teams and looking to join another, what is the one thing about playing in the league you enjoy and what is it you wish would change for the better?
Hmm. That is a very good question. There are somethings to enjoy and many not to enjoy in our league. But so far, there are improvements and the league organizers are helping too, but I think they can improve in player welfare and security at match venues. You know some clubs treat their players badly, like they are not professionals. They forget that without these players, there would be no league, so it is good for the clubs to treat their players right, give them time to see their families and listen to their concerns.
I believe that if the clubs show concern in how their players are faring, the best will come out of the boys. It’s not just to set cones on the ground and say, ‘Alright! Two aside, for two hours!’ They have to get the training right, get the welfare right so the players can do their jobs with peace and pride. That way, you will see players giving everything on the pitch for their clubs. But I know it will get better, however it slowly it improves.
For me as a goalkeeper, I’ll also advise that coaches do not cast goalkeepers aside after one mistake. You see a team concede a goal and everyone blames the goalkeeper, the next thing, the coach would just push him aside and not use him again for a long time. That destroys the confidence of anybody. More encouragement has to be shown, after all, no one is perfect. If there was any perfect player, we would see games where no goals will be scored because everyone is playing perfectly.
So you believe the criticisms of goalkeepers are unjust or the criticisms of players in general
I believe it’s unjust for everyone. An attacker fails to score, you cast him aside for the entire season, a defender makes one mistake, you keep him away from the team, sometimes even away from training. These are not actions that will encourage players.
You have spoken about this very passionately and I get the sense now that it is something you have had on your mind for quite a while. Is there an incident you would like to share with us, where this happened?
No, I don’t think I want to mention any specific events. I know this happens a lot. It has also happened to me so I would like to see it stop, so that the young players coming up are not affected by it.
Okay. You are moments away from leaving Enyimba. Is there any club you’ve reached an agreement with for the coming season?
I won’t make any announcements here. I’m sure the news will be out soon.
Finally, what would you say to fans of Enyimba who would be sad to see you go?
Well, I would tell the fans to keep supporting Enyimba, support the goalkeepers in the team. Football, by its nature means players would always come and go. I have enjoyed my time in Enyimba and if this is the time to go, then I must say my goodbyes and look ahead to the next chapter of my life. I love them and will see them again soon.
Thank you very much Paul. Again, we wish you the very best. It has been a pleasure talking to you.
It is my pleasure, too. Thank you.