- Published on Wednesday, 10 January 2018 16:36
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By Andrew Randa
The 2017/18 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) season is three days away and one player who cannot wait for the games to begin is Plateau United’s Amos Gyang.
The diminutive winger is eager to get started because of his desire to prove doubters wrong. Doubters, in Jos, where Plateau United play their home games.
It is not an agenda of sorts but an opportunity for him to show Jos fans that he has grown from the little kid in the street who was called 'Mai Doya' (yam seller) because he hawked yams for his mother while playing in youth football circles in Jos a few years back.
Gyang, who joined Plateau United from former NPFL champions Kano Pillars told npfl.ng that his experience with opposing fans while growing up in Jos has been a source of motivation for him to show he can succeed playing football.
He was the butt of jokes not because his family was so poor he could not afford boots but chiefly due to the fact that he had a tray of yams on his head when he was not playing football in the streets.
A lot of coaches also had problems with his stature as they felt he could not cope with the physical demands of the game but he has been able to put all that behind him to play for the likes of Giwa FC, Kano Pillars and now Plateau United.
“It wasn’t easy for me in the beginning. A lot of people doubted me because of my stature. Some felt I could not make it in the game but I was willing to fight hard and tell them they were wrong,” Gyang exclusively told npfl.ng in Jos.
“I had a lot of difficulty at first because getting boots to play was an issue and my mother was too poor to afford them for me to wear.
“In fact, that wasn’t even an issue. The main problem was how to eat, how to feed the family. I had to hawk yams and potatoes to earn extra money for my family.
"We could hardly get three square meals in a day. We were schooling and hawking at the same time. During the mid-term break or long vacation, I usually join my mother in her yam business until school resumes.
"At a point, her business grew and she took us from a public school to a private one but that didn’t last long as the business collapsed and we were went back to a public school.”
That was not the only obstacle Gyang faced.
Gyang was also teased a lot especially by opposing fans anytime he scored or assisted a goal. It was a trying period for him but the barrage of insults and expletives hurled at him became a source of inspiration for him.
“It got so bad that any time I score a goal in a match around Jos metropolis our opponents will say ‘Mai Doya ya sha goal’ (translates to ‘Yam seller has scored a goal’),” he said.
“That was my nickname in the youth circles, I was called ‘Mai Doya.’ I felt bad about it because people were more interested in the fact that I hawked yams for a living than my football skills.
“It felt bad that one day when I got called names on the pitch I ran home to my mother and told her I will never hawk yams again.
“I was determined to change all that I promised myself that I will make it in the game to prove my doubters wrong and support my mother. I stopped hawking and concentrated on my football career."
That setback did not deter Gyang as he kept on playing in youth competitions winning titles and picking up awards within Jos and Bauchi metropolis.
A silverlining soon appeared as Saint Murumba College, famous for producing the likes of Segun Odegbami and Obinna Nsofor stepped up and offered him an opportunity to complete his secondary school education.
It has been a whirlwind of a career for the winger whose breakthrough into big-time football came when he was selected to represent Plateau State at the National Sports Festival in Lagos in 2012.
Gyang shone like a million stars as he emerged as the third best player in the football event and also scooped the second top scorer award.
A bevy of clubs was in the queue to sign him.
Heartland, Kaduna United and Dolphins (now Rivers United) all made overtures but he ended signing for Giwa FC where he cut his teeth as a professional footballer
"I had a good time with the team (Giwa FC) before I went to Pillars and now I’m back to Jos, where it all started. I have a mission to show my people that the ‘yam seller’ is back to his roots and hoping to create records with my home state team Plateau United,” Gyang enthused.
“Winning the league again is my personal target and I also want to help my team go as far as possible in the CAF Champions League.
“It is an honour to represent my hometown club and I can’t wait for the season to start so I can show Jos fans what I can do. The 2017/18 NPFL season will be tough because as defending champions, a lot of teams will want to beat us whether home and away.
“I can’t wait to get started, I’m excited the league is resuming. I hope to give the fans something to cheer and hopefully this time, the tag won’t be ‘yam seller.”
Reigning champions Plateau United will open their title defence with an away trip to neighbours Nasarawa United.