By Emeka Obasi


Sports and business form a perfect partnership when the right buttons are triggered. Austin Athan Akpehe deserves more than pat on the back from the ministerial duo of Doris Uzoka – Anite and Joe Owan Enoh.


Akpehe is a former Nigerian footballer who met immediate past Liberian president, George Oppong Weah as a player in France and tapped from that opportunity to delve into business which has taken him as far as China, creating openings for investment.


Uzoka – Anite, as minister of Industry, Trade and Investment should be interested in the China – Africa Free Trade Zone. Sports minister, Enoh, is keen on grassroots development. There is a begging opportunity available.


Akpehe runs Galaxy Sports Development International, a conglomerate with presence in far flung climes like China, Germany, France, the United States, Holland, Italy, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and of course, Nigeria where the Galaxy Sports Academy is domiciled.


We got chatting recently. He said : “In 2001, I was privileged to play in a charity game organised by Selection of African Footballers Based in Europe ( SELAF ) in Paris. It involved some of the African stars, like George Weah, Cyril Domoraud, Morlaye Souma, Ahmed Ouattara, Musa Saib, Roger Hitoto and Brice Samba.”


The opportunity came, Akpehe continued because ” I was one of the three young African players that featured alongside the stars against Pacy Sur Eure”. From that, he signed a contract in France through Weah’s recommendation, assisted by his agent, Sekou Coulibaly.


When Weah delved into business after quitting soccer, his young friend was one of those who pushed the brand. That relationship opened more doors and even as president of Liberia, both men remained close.


Akpehe has lived in Germany since 2003. In 2014, he made a trip to China and has remained a Sino – Nigerian, exploring business opportunities. 


In May 2024, the Entrepreneur was in Hunan Province interacting with the China – Africa Free Trade Zone Investment. He met with top officials, including group president, Mr. Su Junping and Ms Lu Zhaofeng.


 Akpehe left with solid impressions. “The Chinese are creating huge opportunities and when you are here, you understand why a lot of countries are kind of threatened. The Chinese are workaholics.


“I lived in Germany for almost 20 years and we talked about the German machines in term of technology and labour. The Chinese have certain marketing skills that are so unique.”


He called on the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Embassy in Beijing, to identify with its citizens doing business in China by way of sensitization and seminars, to exploit yearning openings.


According to Akpehe, “The Chinese government, is through the China – Africa Free Trade Zone and Belt and Road initiatives, creating unending genuine opportunities for companies to operate in a professional manner.


“It is easier when you have people with Objective Oriented Project Planning ( OOPP ) and ‘sincerity of purpose,’ as part of their operational styles.”


In his active years, Akpehe played for Stationery Stores, Nigerdock, Asante Kotoko and Stade Abidjan before traveling overseas where he played in France and Germany. 


After service, he went for further studies and this has really helped to chart a course in business. With a UEFA B Licence, Akpehe does many things, at the same time, from Player’s Agent to Scout and Brand Ambassador.


His efforts can also help in the fight against criminality. “My passion is grassroots human security project programmes based on government policies and youth football development,” Akpehe said.


Partnering with Galaxy Sports Academy will benefit the military as a proactive step against banditry in the North. Akpehe combines education with sports, to keep the youth away from crime.


Love for Youth Football blossomed in the United States but love for country took the idea home. Today, products of the academy are going places. Kumaga Suur Mathew played for the national Under 23 team. He is now part of Lobi Stars. Joseph Atule, jnr. and Chris Shimbajev have moved to China.


Akpehe is a good Ambassador. He has shown that life after football is not about organising novelty matches for celebrities and dining with presidents. It should entail empowering younger ones through a deliberate policy. Uzoka – Anite and Enoh could just say hello to this compatriot.