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Championship Preview Interview [Panthers v Rebels]

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REBELS

The Lagos Rebels

Ashley (Co-owner)

SFF: Congratulations on winning the Eko South Division. How do you feel?

Ashley: To be honest, I’m still in shock. I couldn’t be more proud for each and every Rebel player.  Our team has put in a tremendous amount of work over the past few weeks both mentally and physically. We truly are a family that supports each other at every twist and turn, every up and down.  To me, that’s more important than any win but this had to have been one of the craziest comebacks that I’ve ever experienced first-hand as an athlete.  I still can’t believe it.

SFF: As an expansion team with 13 rookies, how has it been calming their nerves.  With only 2 vets (Alice and Donna) who have played in the post season.

Ashley: Our team is ready to put in the work.  We will do what we can to prepare but make sure that at the end of the day we are having fun.  We aren’t fighting nerves because we know we will support each other each step of the way.  If one person scores, we all score.  If one person makes an error, we all make an error.  This is the way of the Rebel camp.

SFF: What message, if any, does this send to other expansion teams?

Ashley: This league is proof that anything is possible. A few months ago, a lot of our players had never even touched a football before.  With the right training, mentality, and effort, it’s possible to start at the bottom and make significant progress.  We won some games and we lost some games but we always knew that it didn’t define us.

 

 

Yomi (Centre) and Chuma (Quarterback)

SFF: Yomi, wow! Who would have thought or seen that coming. Tell us what that moment was like when the ball landed in your hands?

Yomi: (Laughs) man silent sleeper, I played football in high school and college, wide receiver then running back, just the herniated disc injury hadn’t allowed me to properly showcase any talent.

Quick correction though, the ball didn’t land in my hands, I literally had to locate it, and go make a play on it, but I was definitely at the right place at the right time, close enough to do it. I remember Chuma saying everyone go deep, I was just thinking I want to catch; I hope Chuma throws it if I get open in the end zone, when I saw the ball thrown towards Musty, it was get as close as possible to the ball, like a Hail Mary play, when I saw it deflected I saw the ball was within my vicinity to make a play on it.

A bit of luck having the ball tipped by Babse, and ball awareness contributed to making a good play on the field.

Overall It was a great feeling though, knowing I was and still am hurt which sidelined me for most of the season, but was instrumental enough to my team when they needed me the most. I felt like finally, injury aside, I’m out here making a difference.

The game’s unlikely hero

SFF: Chuma, way to come back and clinch it in the dying seconds.  Tell us what your half-time team talk was like?

Chuma: The message was fairly straightforward. We just told guys to keep the morale up, we wanted a fight and now we’ve put ourselves in a scenario where we’ve got to fight and prove what we’re about, Think Falcons v Patriots Super Bowl. We then created a new play for the second half and said we’d run it until told otherwise.  Don’t give up but most importantly have fun

SFF: Tell us what the huddle before the last play was like, with a few seconds left on the clock?

Chuma: Musty had gone down trying to catch a post in the endzone and was being attended to by the trainer. So we planned to have Scrapp in as an emergency. Call was essentially a Hail Mary to the end zone but specific instruction to the center to make sure he went straight to the middle of the field. To be honest I was surprised when they rushed so when I saw that I knew there was a chance for some one on one matches. When I saw the ball fall into Yomi’s hands, pure bliss.

SFF: Chuma, you qualified for the championship last year, with your former team, Trogons.  You, however, missed that game due to you travelling.  How is your schedule looking like now for October 21st?

Chuma: Hilarious! (chuckles) Because I’m actually in London next week. But have received serious death threats from the team if I’m not back in time for the game 🤣

Poised comeback hero

 

Chika (Defensive Back) and Donna (Wide Receiver)

SFF: So we hear they are calling you Chika Island with your flag snatching and shut-down plays in the cornerback position.  How are you feeling with one more game to go?

Chika: I’m super excited to show out on the field again with the team. I injured my foot so will need to rest a bit this week and will then train hard so that I don’t miss any jukes on the field 😊

Chika Island

SFF: Donna, you’ll be the first player in the league history, should you take the field, to play in back-to-back Championship games.  Tell us how you feel about this remarkable feat?

Donna: Clearly it’s not everyone that gets a second chance at winning the championship, so I don’t intend to walk away from the field empty handed this time around! Super determined to build on our team’s playoff momentum and take the league trophy!

Two consecutive finals appearances for Donna

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