Popular stand-up comedian, Helen Paul, aka Tatafo, begins our series on top non-sports personalities and their sports lives. In an interview with SODIQ OYELEKE, she talks about her participation in sports and why she chose comedy ahead of sports
Did you participate in sports while growing up?
Yes, I did. I participated in athletics. I used to run relay races.
Were you always on the winning side?
No. I was always running so that I could be given Glucose. I finished plenty packs of Glucose because sometimes, I intentionally fell down so that they could attend to me and give me some Glucose to lick. I found it very interesting. You will always want to fall down because if you fall down three times, you will be served Glucose three times.
Were there any other sporting activities you also featured in?
Yes, I also took part in match past because when you match, you are given plastic as souvenirs.
What about sports on the streets with your mates, did you do indulge in that too?
Yes, and we broke windscreens a lot. We did kites that got stuck on NEPA (electricity) cables, which affected electricity in the area. All the residents would pursue us around the streets.
So, why didn’t you become a sportsperson?
The things I am into, acting, comedy and OAP among others – are career-based. Career and loving sport is not the same thing to me. It’s not everyone that loves sport that will end up going into sports fully. If you don’t take sports as a career, you can still like sports. Any way, sports is still part of our work. Is talking and matching everywhere on stage not sports? So, sports somehow is part of my career.
So, are you saying there is a connection between sports and comedy?
Yes, there is a synergy between both. We make people laugh and dance. When they score in football and they are dancing, is that not sports? So, we are one. All of us are making people happy and we can also make people feel sad. Just as in sports, in acting, we also make people feel emotional.
If you have a wish to pick between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as a husband, who would you select?
I won’t pick Messi or Ronaldo. I will select David Beckham.
David Beckham is my man. I love him so much.
But Beckham is retired from football…
(Cuts in) It doesn’t matter if he’s no longer active as a footballer. Honey will always be honey. Must I love either Messi or Ronaldo? You can’t compare Beckham’s legacy with the footballers we have now. It’s just like comparing King Sunny Ade with present day entertainers, they are different.
Do you have a favourite Nigerian footballer?
Yes, she is (Asisat)Oshoala. Despite crashing out of the (2019) Women’s World Cup, I love her like that. Oshoala is the best.
Is your preference for Oshoala because she’s female?
I like Oshoala. It is Oshoala that I like. Yes, I know that you’re jealous.
One would have expected that you mentioned the likes of Austin Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu?
(Laughs) Where are they living? Where are their houses? Oshoala is the best. She will even score more goals than Okocha.
Do you go to stadium to watch matches?
Why won’t I watch football? The one I love most is seeing guys playing under Third Mainland Bridge, Okobaba field. Sometimes, I watch matches along Gbagada Expressway. Those ones are sweeter. As you are playing football, you enjoy yourself.
Are you emotional when Nigerian teams play?
It’s their jerseys that I just look at because they are fine. I’m not interested in whatever they do with the ball. That one is nothing. Whether they play well or not, they will get their money. I just like their jerseys. The way they play is their job. I can’t know more than them, they know how they play.
What’s your favourite football team?
It’s Super Falcons of Nigeria.
Do you support any of the European clubs?
I prefer Super Falcons, or any club that Oshoala is playing for, to any club.
Who is the most popular football you have ever met one-on-one?
She is Assisat Oshoala.
If you are given a free ticket to watch any match, which team will you choose?
It’s surely any team that Oshoala is going to play for.
Would you allow your kids become athletes?
That is their decision. I have no business with their lives. Anything that they are passionate about and God gives them the gift to do, they should do. They can do any sport they want.
What is your message to parents who restrict their children from participating in sports?
That is not right. It is old school style; parents should let their children’s future be theirs. In my own case, I will help them to nurture the ones they chose.
How do you see grassroots football in Nigeria?
It is doing well. We are enjoying it; even when where there is no grass on the pitches, its sand everywhere. We play it anyhow, break vehicles’ windscreens, play the ball into the next compound and go and beg the landlord.
Super Eagles are currently in Egypt for AFCON, what is your message to them?
I heard that we (Eagles) beat Burundi 1-0. It’s okay. But they should help us score more goals. They can achieve more.