"Fire! fire! fire!" the shout rented the air with such intensity and rhythmic vibrations. Unless you're aware of what was going on, you do be as startled as most spectators that were trooping in to watch the Nigeria national league (NNL) match at Umuahia township stadium. Maybe, there has been an outbreak and the visitor's dressing room on fire or perhaps, a church could be holding a deliverance session out there. No! It was the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Football Club (MFM FC) fondly called 'prayer warriors' - getting ready to take on Abia Comets.
Certainly, not many of the spectators had seen such a prayer rally before, not in NNL games. It wasn't the usual ritual most teams in Nigeria gather together in circle and murmur up prayers for two or three minutes before kick-off or at half time. It was a full scale prayer offered with such intensity for up to an hour; players sweating and exerting so much energy even before the game. Spectators were so startled that they began to wonder if this wasn't just another football game. Perhaps, there was something more.
But it will not surprise you if you're conversant with the praying ethics of Dr.D.k. Olukoya's Mountain of Fire and Miracles ministry, owners of the club. It is perhaps a praying culture the players themselves had already imbibed as members of the church.
MFM is a popular deliverance ministry in Nigeria that has help set millions of people free from fetish stronghold through the gospel and the power of prayers.
Early in February 2013, it was announced that MFM FC has replaced Bolowotan FC at Group B of NNL. Bolowotan FC, which was privately owned and managed by Oluwatoyin Gfaar, was alleged to have freely handed over the slot to MFM FC for reasons that were not made public. Though, some attributed it to financial constraints - that Mr. Gfaar sold the slot to MFM for NGN10 million.
But what will be the interest for a Christian ministry to venture into the ownership of a professional football team. "It's more than just the game. It's about getting the attention of billions of people around the world that religiously follow the sport, and introducing to them the gospel of Jesus Christ as well as letting them benefit from the delivering power of prayers." - Said Mr. Godwin Enakhena, Team Manager of MFM FC.
But how could they achieve that playing in a league that is not so popular with fans in Nigeria. A league that is bedeviled with corruption - a win at all cost syndrome and an officiating that leave many with questions. One thing we all know is NNL and indeed Nigeria football at large, needs an urgent deliverance! And with prayers like that, 'power must surely change hands!'