In a Facebook post, Darren Idongesit Aquaisua opened up about the abuse he suffered as a child in the hands of his football coach, when he was aspiring to be a teenage footballer.
Read below, and sound off in the comments:
“I know what tranquility means, I can talk into the face of night about the stillness of a silvery streaked pond, it’s calm; but I can only describe it, I’ve never felt peace, not in this heavy heart.”
I have lived a life of stories, good ones filled with the overcoming of self and the hurdles in life that is present even with a baby’s very first step. However a lot has been stories of anguish, bitterness, and the eternal sorrows of a wounded heart yet to be avenged. One of such stories is about my misadventure into sports, groomed by a homosexual predator only to be abused and rejected to heal no more. I’ve never slept some nights literally, thinking of nothing but revenge not because I am evil but for my heart. The bells, bells they chime at the hour unholy and calm; such an ominous hour when every critter sleeps, I am awakened by the bells, the chiming of the bells of vengeance. I am not in charge of this unholy ritual; these bells toll ghoulishly by themselves like the bells of Canterbury at Thomas Beckett’s death.
Like most young kids growing in the late 90s, I wanted to be professional footballer. So I saved up money for a secondhand football boot and jerseys. We had the various teams graded according to age but being Nigerians, we had some kids stepping down from the under 15s and 17s into the 13 years bracket, so age wasn’t as much a requirement as weight; we all had to fall within 45kg, a weight I’d have no trouble on the scales as a very thin child.
There were two dominant youth teams in Uyo, one was coached by Citroen, a PE trainer from Christ the King Primary School (that’s the story I heard back then), another was coached by Emman Ntuk. Citroen specialized in the under 15s and 17s with the very talented kids filing to register; I wasn’t so talented, but what I lacked in natural gifts, I worked hard to cover in training. My lack of the natural touch meant I overcompensated with determination, aggressiveness and stamina hence my position of left back which was a difficult position that every other talented player didn’t want to venture into.
I couldn’t make it into Citroen’s team because I wasn’t “the exceptionally gifted 12 year old”, but Emman Ntuk readily accepted my offer to train with his team. I trained hard and we worked in a large team, but my niche position at left back meant I had little competition for a starting place. Emman Ntuk would be appointed by the ministry of sports of the Akwa-Ibom State Government to ready a team of under 13s for the national tournament which was to hold in Benin.
We didn’t just get to be selected by AKSG but we won a series of qualifying matches within the state, and there I was in the brink of representing my state in a competition that was to take place the following year.
Towards the end of the year 1999; training intensified and I was so sure of making the team that I skipped school to join the morning sessions at CKS. I would hear the rest of the boys joke about another player called Akpan-boy who had an unusually big pair of ears; these boys were in the inner circle and they were closer to the coach than the others. They would call Akpan-boy “awan coach!” I never understood such complex euphemism, and words such as “homo” and “paedophile” were totally not in my vocabulary, I’d never heard of or known what they meant so I had nothing to fear.
I have a very watchful mother who doubled as a father. She was particularly strict on curfews but on the night of New Year; every child could stay up till late in the morning watching fireworks and throwing a couple bangers into neighboring properties. And so my mum didn’t know I would be assaulted on that night of 1999 by Emman Ntuk.
Usually the night of 31st is spent in churches praying into the New Year and we did that in the coach’s church. I had joined on invitation and the other 3 boys closest to the coach were there. After the service, Emman Ntuk persuaded me to follow him and the other boys to his house; I didn’t want to at first because I wanted to be in my neighborhood watching the fireworks, but then the year we entered was the tournament year and I didn’t want to disobey the coach when I was so close to my first call up to represent AKSG under 13s. We walked to his house in Ikot Ekpene road by Ikpa Road which led to the University of Uyo. Normally there would be electricity supply for the New Year night; an appeasement of some sort for the previous year’s blackouts. However the coach’s family compound had no light because they were turned off or the security lights needed fixing. His room was dark with the only light being from an aquarium; the blue light attracted me like a fly towards UV lanterns. I sat there watching the tiny fish swim and barely joined the conversation.
Emman Ntuk offered the strong alcoholic drink known as Kai-kai, but I refused being that a professional player wasn’t supposed to drink and I had never taken alcohol before. The other kids took sips with the little bottle cap and I hesitated as they exerted peer pressure, with one remarking, “Where will we see malt to buy when all the shops are closed?”
The coach told me I disappointed him and that alone was something I didn’t want. So I took the bottle and a swig directly, to which he said, “That’s my boy!” This is a term we were familiar with during training when someone did an amazing tackle or dribble.
I didn’t feel the effects of the alcohol immediately except for a burning sensation in the stomach and very dry bitter mouth. I grew bolder and I joined in the conversation, I became hilarious and something wasn’t right. I could hear the coach beckon me to go take a shower; he held a bucket of water in one hand while propping his retractable screen door. It was dark and the coach’s dark complexion meant that the figure by the door was a silhouette except for the voice. Nothing was familiar and going out in the dark with that shadow was the last thing on my mind.
He left and I fell asleep only to be woken; I was to sleep on his bed with him as a first-time visitor while the other boys slept on the floor. I was tired and intoxicated, and the bed was a welcoming invitation and I immediately slept off. During the cold of the night, I felt a hand rubbing on the fly of my trouser; I was petrified and my body stiffened as the zip was undone. It wasn’t unusual for us prepubescent boys to wear trousers without underwear, and so he immediately grabbed the little thing I had no use of as a virgin. He rubbed my penis and I felt revolted as I pushed his hands aside. He kept on fondling me and I kept resisting, because I was embarrassed especially seeing that my member was already up.
I was uncomfortable and confused. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me so I leapt from the bed and exited the door with my heart pounding heavily. I didn’t know about homosexuality or paedophilia. I didn’t even know about sex or how masturbation worked. So my inclination was that whatever happened in there was about taking my penis for rituals. I hurried up to the nearest street light to see what had happened to my penis. I had secreted a clear fluid that wasn’t urine; this one had a consistency that seemed like the okra soup. Whatever that thing was, it wasn’t urine.
I was afraid as I walked along on the deserted morning street. Back then there were no mobile phones to call my mother. I walked home in confusion as I couldn’t make out what had just occurred.
The following weeks in training, the coach was particularly hostile towards me and in the weeks leading up to the call up for the national tournament, I had a new competition for left back, and I was on the bench or used in the team B that was like the sparring team for the first 11. My career in football had ended even before it began; I sat in tears after the call up letters were shared, the emblem of my beloved state crested on the letter and others so happy to receive theirs with their names on it.
I immediately lost my passion for football and in a way that helped me concentrate in school.
I have hated homosexuals since then until recently when I matured mentally through research and critical thinking. I began analyzing my deep fears and anger; separated irrational ones from the genuine. Homosexuals are good people, so I wasn’t going to let the actions of one man cause me to hate other innocent people. I researched on child abuse and discovered that heterosexual child abuse is a lot more common with little girls being raped even by family members. (I have a story in my family but for another day).
I don’t want to tag anyone because I know how sensitive this is. However if you were abused by Emman Ntuk in Uyo during the late 90s and 2000s, please come forward. I forgive him. That’s why I will donate to a charity for prison inmates because that’s where he belongs with the Catholic priests of Cardinal Ekanem Seminary in Uyo. I had a confession from a friend which I am holding in trust so I can’t disclose. I only wish he has the boldness to come forward.
Emman Ntuk is still in charge of children in Akwa-Ibom State, last I heard of him.
He is a serial child abuser and has abused numerous young footballers in Uyo. That man should go prison where people like him belong.