In the name of the father…

The passing of ex-Green Eagles midfielder, Mudasiru Babatunde Lawal on July 6, 1991 at 37 years of age was a great tragedy that was mourned with genuine feeling throughout the footballing continent, yet that sentiment was strongest in the city of Ibadan. After all, Muda Lawal was more than arguably the Shooting Stars of Ibadan’s greatest player. He defined an era, and catapulted club and country into world consciousness with his creativity, skill and demeanour. He still holds the record of five consecutive appearances at the African Cup of Nations and who could forget his all-conquering season in 1976 when he helped the Shooting Stars of Ibadan to the African Cup Winners Cup - the first Nigerian team to do so. In 2003, his contribution to the game earned him a posthumous award for football development on the continent from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

In this exclusive feature, Bolanle Muda-Lawal, daughter of the late Nigerian football legend opens up on what her father was like while she was growing up and what it meant being the child of one of the greatest footballer to have donned the blue of the Shooting Stars

Bolanle Muda Lawal didn’t understand what all the fuss about her father was, even after his death. As a child, she admits that it was confusing to understand the fame which surrounded him which is quite understandable given the way her father tried to raise her and her siblings. While alive, Muda was well known in and outside football as a down to earth guy and one that was tremendously humble. Asked if this transferred to the home front, Bolanle reminisces… “Despite all the fame, my dad was a typical Yoruba man; very principled but equally loving at the same time. I remember that despite having a privileged upbringing, we still couldn't behave anyhow and a lot of that was thanks to him.”

Bolanle, who grew up in Ibadan, her father’s old hunting ground (she had her primary education at the famed Nickdel, and then later graduated from St. Louis) knows the weight her last name carries. Asked how she copes with the pressure of being the daughter of a legend, she says it has become a normal part of the routine. “These days, some people know, others don’t. I just try not to let it dictate the way I relate to others or the way they talk to me.”

This year will mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Muda-Lawal. Bolanle feels indifferent about the extent of the NFF’s contribution to the remembrance of her father and doesn’t know if anything special has been proposed just yet. “I remember the former Commissioner of Sports in Oyo State, Dapo Lam Adesina was the only one that did a thing or two. There is nothing much happening right now although we had a special occasion in Abuja during the 20th year remembrance so something may yet happen. We have been hearing that the government might do something this year but nothing is concrete so far.”

A close look at the woman she has grown into it is evident that Bolanle Muda-Lawal cuts the figure of one who has been toughened by years of trying to eclipse the shadow of her father in favour of making her own name in her chosen field. Besides being a successful model, Bolanle owns BML Couture, a thriving fashion label she started some years back. On if her father’s name often opened doors for her she says, “In my line of business, I don’t think I have to go through someone to get things done, so I am trying to build my career and also build my own.”

Bolanle has four other siblings that Muda gave birth to before passing away. When asked if any of her siblings inherited the silky soccer skills of their father Bolanle laughs and says, “Believe it or not, I am actually more into basketball than football. My brother was going to follow dad’s footsteps but there was a lot of pressure on several fronts and now he is into fashion as well.”

 

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