By Bassey Ibiatisuho

‘Age is just a number’ is one statement that has been proven right over time in different situations, but often time does not play out same in the world of sports, except for very few who have defied the odds not to allow the natural calculation stop their passionate contribution to the game they love so much.

For every sports man or woman, old age comes with a lot of feelings, coming to the reality that you are nearing the end to what brought you so much fame and fortune, you’re about to step aside from the sport you love so much, you will only become a passive follower after your active years, it goes on and on.

The passion never dies, but while the brain still has the skills, the body loses the fitness and can no longer interpret the signal sent by the brain. At this point, the once ‘beautiful bride’ scouted and hunted by suitors begins to lose value and attention gradually drift away.

Akarandut Orok’s arrival in Akwa United from Al-Hidd FC in Bahrain at the start of the season was greeted with mixed feelings by the fans, of course rightly so following lack of progress reports on him since leaving the shores of Nigeria in 2009 after a stellar campaign in the NPFL with Akwa United that saw him finish as the highest goal scorer in the 2008/2009 season with 17 goals.

He left at the age of 22 and returned at the age of 32, a lot happened in the last ten years that changed Orok, but one thing remained unchanged, Akarandut Orok is a goal poacher, that you cannot take away from him, not even his age. In his class, the NPFL don’t have them many – Rabiu Ali of Kano Pillars and Aniekan Ekpe of Dakkada FC and a few others fit in.

Sometimes in life all you need is an opportunity and self-belief and for Orok the opportunity arrived with the coming of Coach Kennedy Boboye who tried something different from what erstwhile Coach John Obuh did which almost sank the team.

Today, the Akwa Ibom-born striker has found a new lease of life in a team that brought him fame netting four goals already in his first four starts for the team and successfully leading them from the ‘Land of Egypt’ experienced at the start of the season to the ‘Land of Promise,’ where they are rising to their fate of greatness like Dakadda.

Two home wins, two away wins under Boboye is safe to say that truly ‘the LORD has brought Akwa United back to the city of Zion.’ While doubters doubt, players like Akarandut Orok, Ubong Friday, Mfon Udoh, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi and other returnees must prove that their form were not lost in the ‘strange land,’ the new players must also prove that they are worthy to wear the batch of a team that ranks among the best in the land in the last five years. This must be shown in discipline, character, commitment and effort, not forgetting team work.

So far the tension has reduced, the players are relieved and the fans are happy to see the team climb to 5th place on the log. It is good, but not yet uhuru, hard work means more work and the team must not be distracted by the December results which turned around their season, that’s just a lap in the marathon and if concentration is increased, this team can indeed deliver the promise promised fans at the start of the season.

Like in 2008/2009 season, the name Akarandut Orok can again become a household name, its on the rise and more goals from the boots of the legend can make him become the ‘Chief corner Stone.’

Orok is 32 and to me, that’s just a number.