Olumide Omotoso Donates Shoes and Inspires Youngsters
For over three years, Nigerian football player, Wittenborg graduate and entrepreneur Olumide Omotoso has helped disadvantaged children and youngsters from his home country, aged between 8 and 22, to pursue their dreams of playing football. Omotoso, who lives in Apeldoorn and plays for Victoria Boys, is founder of a social project that collects donations of shoes and distributes them among Nigerian organisations, such as football clubs, non-profit institutions and orphanages.
The initiative started in 2018, when he organised a shoe collection drive among his teammates and, by word of mouth, also received contributions from players of other teams to obtain a total of 55 pairs. Since then, the project has been expanded – under the umbrella name Lumotz – to become a foundation, and also encompass Omotoso’s own sportswear brand and an educational organisation he founded to provide young Nigerian athletes with personal and professional guidance.
Omotoso says that the inspiration for the project came to him when he was submitting his master’s thesis in Sport Business Management, which focused on the Nigerian football academy system and the challenges faced by young players. “While studying these situations, I felt I needed to do something in order to help those children and youngsters. One of the main challenges they face is the lack of basic equipment for playing football, including shoes, so I decided to organise the donations. I handed in my thesis on my birthday, and that is when I realised that the best present I could give myself was to do something to help change the world.”
To find the Nigerian organisations that are currently working in partnership with him, Omotoso relied on his network and the help of family and friends. Besides the donation of shoes, his project also involves other activities, such as offering workshops, seminars and mentoring to young athletes. “Among my goals is to help their psychosocial development, invest in their personal growth and contribute to expand their horizons. I am in the process of establishing partnerships with football clubs and other organisations that might provide these kids with opportunities, but I also want them to see that there are other possible paths besides football. Even if you do not manage to become a professional player, you can find your way through business, for example,” he stresses.
Recently, Omotoso recruited a Nigerian student for Wittenborg’s Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Sport Business Management. “I did this because I want to help people educate themselves and invest in their self-development. Studying at Wittenborg was a game-changer for me, I got plenty of opportunities there and it was through working on my thesis that I was inspired to start my projects,” he says.
A strong advocate of the role of sport in promoting change, Omotoso points out that it can benefit both individuals and society. “Sport is connected to everything we do in life, and it can be used to inspire, educate and engage people, because it is not only about physical skills, but also about psychological, emotional and social abilities. Besides, sport is at the forefront of debates on topics including the gender pay gap and the needs of people with disabilities, such as the athletes who compete in the Paralympic Games. So, sport is important for both personal and social development.”
Regarding his plans for the future, he says that he would like to keep building on his brand, as well as inspiring and motivating people. “I want to create a community of people who can collectively solve social problems. In addition to sport, I am also focused on sustainability. Nigeria has many environmental problems, such as pollution, and the shirts I produce are completely eco-friendly, being made of recycled plastic bottles. With that, I want to send the message that people need to take better care of the environment.”
How to collaborate
People and institutions who would like to support Omotoso’s projects can email email@example.com or contact him on Twitter or Instagram, where he can be found under the username @lumotz_gf.
Apart from shoes, it is also possible to donate pieces of clothing and other football equipment, and the project also accepts financial contributions and other types of help. “We recently managed to collect 40 pairs of football shoes that will be sent to Nigeria, and I am also searching for partners that can help me with the shipping of these items,” Omotoso points out.
by Ulisses Sawczuk