Home » Why I chose acting over sports –Dele Odule

Why I chose acting over sports –Dele Odule

by Daudu John

Why I chose acting over sports –Dele Odule

Veteran Nollywood actor, Dele Odule, in this interview with EBENEZER BAJELA talks about his passion for table tennis, his love for the Super Eagles and more

How do you relax when you are not on set acting?

I am a table tennis player and I play a little bit of it even though I am not a professional player but I know the game and when people see me play they know that I am good at it. I am not a football fan at all but that is not to say that I do not know what football is all about because I went to a teacher’s college and before graduating, Physical and Health Education was a compulsory subject, so I have a knowledge of football and other sports but the one I play effectively is table tennis.

Apart from table tennis, what other sport do you love?

I played volleyball for Ogun State. Volleyball was a game I played when I was in the teacher’s college and I played till the state level and I represented Ogun State in the early 80s. That is the only sport I will say I effectively took part in when I was much younger but occasionally I still play table tennis.

A lot of our readers will recall seeing you in the movie ‘Ti Oluwa N’ile’ where you displayed your table tennis skills as a king. Why didn’t you make a career out of it?

I couldn’t do the two at the same time. I have chosen theatre and I think I am comfortable with that. I started acting even before I went to the teacher’s training college. Immediately after my modern school I started acting and it was because I love to be well-read that I went to the teacher’s training college as an alternative to the secondary school that I should have gone to, It was when I got to the college that I developed all the likeness for sports because it was compulsory that you get yourself involved in PHE.

Did you ever put in for any competition and won medal?

I never put in for any competition because it was all just for fun for me.

Who will you rate as the best table tennis player this country has ever produced?

For me, I think I will say Waheed Ekun, he is very old now and there is also another player with the name Musa from Benue but I can’t remember his other name. For the female, I will go for Kehinde Okenla from Ogun State. Aruna Quadri is another great player who has been making the country proud.  I may not know much about the young generation but I know a lot about Aruna Quadri and it is my love for table tennis that made me still know about him.

How did your love for table tennis start?

You know as a child we put benches together to play table tennis and because it was more fun, that was how I developed an interest, I later had the opportunity to play on a better surface and that was how I got better at that game. It is until recently that I don’t have table tennis kits at home anymore. I have always had the table and the kits but it looks like theatre has taken the better part of my time and I don’t have time for it but when I visit friends or go to places where I see table tennis I still joined to play.

You said you are not a big fan of football, does that means you don’t watch the Super Eagles when they play?

It is like asking me if I am interested when Yoruba culture is on display, I do watch the Super Eagles whenever they play because I am always interested in them even though I may not be able to stay abreast of their activities but the moment I learned they are playing I try to watch them. I am passionately in love with my country, passionately in love with my state and my town. I love Nigeria more than any other country and that is why I will not leave Nigeria for any other country. I pray that I don’t have any reason to relocate to another country and I will never do that.

The Eagles were once rated among the best football nation in the world but the last FIFA rankings saw us drop to 40th. How does this make you feel?

I think the problem with this is that we rely too much on overseas-based players and the bitter truth is that they will not put in their best. I am confident that the home-based players will put in more effort because they want to protect their country. During the era of Mudashiru Lawal, Segun Odegbami, they were in Nigeria and not overseas-based players and the passion was there because they wanted to make their country proud. When you travel abroad to go and beg a player to play for the country, there is a limit to what he will deliver unlike those born and raised here.

I can use myself as a case study when we wanted to shoot ‘Ti Oluwa N’ile’ some 30 years ago, they said they needed a young king that will deliver effective and I told them I was the right man for the job because they also wanted to bring someone in for the same role. If we can reduce the over-reliant on oversea-based players and get a good technical person I believe we will get our football back on track.

Nigeria seems to still be relying on the old hands in major tournaments, what do you think should be done to nurture talents?

My candid opinion is that sports should be put in the school curriculum and it has to be enforced. I equally laugh at some people when they say we are depending on old people to get things done but we shouldn’t forget that the old ones started when they were young. This new generation is an era where babies are parenting babies and a generation when the younger ones are not ready to do anything. Muammadu Buhari was 22 years when he became a platoon commander and to date, he is still there because those that should take over are not ready and doing fraud. That is the same problem with our sports and that is why it has to be introduced into the school curriculum and should be enforced. That is the only way we can discover talent.

When I was in a teacher’s training college, there was something we called intercollegiate and it was a yearly event in the country and that was how some top athletes were discovered but today I doubt if there are any competitions within the secondary schools. All these activities need to be reintroduced and students must take part in one sport to enable them to collect their certificate.

Your friend and colleague Jide Kosoko said he once played street football with Haruna Ilerika but no longer goes near the football and you are saying you hardly play table tennis…

(cuts in) Old age has a way of depriving you of doing sports and that is why it is almost impossible when you get to a certain stage in life. Even our own profession is an exercise on its own. Right now I am driving to a location and changing of costumes can be demanding because you keep bending down and standing up. Sports and acting have a lot in common.


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