An SS3 student is expected to go to school, get good grades and prepare for his final examinations that will usher him into the university.
But what happens though when a golden opportunity distorts this educational calculation?
Well, for Karshima Abater, who started playing football at 10, he didn’t need to think twice when such an offer came in the form of a trial with the U-16 side of Nigeria Professional Football League big boys Lobi Stars.
Once he got into the team, it didn’t take long for him to make a lasting impression. Same year, at the LaLiga/NPFL U15 tournament, Abater, playing at right-back, scored a wonder goal to announce his arrival on the domestic scene.
“I was the games prefect in secondary school when Lobi called for trials. I went and was selected. I was nervous initially, but I was confident in my skills,” Abater, 16, told PUNCH Sports Extra
After he was selected by the Makurdi-based side, the defender didn’t hesitate to make his most important request known to the club.
“I informed them that I was from a poor family and in SS3 and that they should help me with my exams if they can. Then Lobi Stars gave me money for my exams.”
But Abater’s parents were not always in support of the career he so passionately pursued.
“In the beginning, my parents were not in support but they are now in support. They said there was nothing in football, that I should continue with my education. However, after Lobi gave me money for my exams, my parents started supporting me fully.”
His versatility has seen him deployed to several positions, including midfield, but he prefers playing as a right-back.
“I like playing as a right-back because I love giving out pullouts and defending my area,” he said.
After scoring the goal of the tournament against Plateau United at the NPFL/LaLiga U-15 tournament in Remo, Ogun State, last year, the emerging talent is now hoping to also showcase his immense skills and high work rate at the global level.
“I was very happy to be part of the LaLiga tournament, it was a great opportunity for me and I scored a wonder goal, that was my happiest moment.
“If I get the chance, I also want to play for Manchester United or any other big EPL club, play for the Super Eagles,” the teenager said.
The youngster has never received a red card or conceded a penalty despite his battles with opposing forwards, models his style after Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander- Arnold.
“I love watching Alexander-Arnold a lot because of his pull-outs, he’s my idol. Ahmed Musa is the Nigerian player that I also love but I think Victor Osimhen is the best player in the national team at the moment.”
Abater’s sponsor Christopher Formenti, a close friend of the budding footballer’s family, said he was enchanted by his skills first time he watched him train.
“When his (Abater) father died, I went to the burial and saw Abater and they introduced him to me as his last born. We started talking and he told him he was into football. He invited me to one of his trainings, so I went to watch him and he was so amazing on the ball; that was when I picked interest in him,” Formenti, an Italian-Nigerian, told PUNCH Sports Extra, adding that.
The UK-based Formenti, an ex-footballer himself, added that after watching Abater play, he made up his mind to help the young lad pursue his dream.
“When he was invited for a trial with Lobi Stars, I spoke to the coach about it and he told me he is a brilliant player. But he did not have boots; I had to buy him some. I went home (Nigeria) last year and this year and gave him more football kits. I visited his trainings every day when I was in Nigeria. I said I’ll support him because he is a good kid who is very good at what he does but needs somebody to support him.
“He comes from a poor family, his father is late and he is the only one who managed to finish secondary school among his brothers and sisters. He is really working hard and I took up the responsibility to support him and try to give him the best because I know he’s got something in him that triggers me.
“He is a young lad, just16. All he just needs is the opportunity and he will grow because I watched him, he listens to his coach, he pays attention and is dedicated to his trainings. I think he will go far if he gets the opportunity.”
They say there’s no second chance to create a first impression. What does the future hold for the promising ‘bundle of skills’ Abater? Only time will tell.