Meet Jep Mallam, the orphan who represented Nigeria at the Samung-Chelsea FC Dream the Blues Camp in London (PHOTOS)

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by Aziza Uko

Jep Mallam on the Chelsea training pitch at Cobahm, UK

Jep Mallam on the Chelsea training pitch at Cobahm, UK

Two days into the Samsung-Chelsea FC Dream the Blues Finale in London, 11-year-old Jep Mallam joined his team mates almost straight from the airport. “Jep is so passionate about football, we asked him to rest following his 6-hour overnight flight to London, but Jep said no, he wanted to join the training session today,” explained Charles Omofomwan of the SOS Children’s Village, Abuja.

When Jep arrived at the camp, he didn’t smile easily. Neither did he talk often either. He acknowledged a greeting with a nod of the head and he avoided eye contact with adults. “He’s a shy kid,” one of the organisers of the event told me. “But, I have never seen so wide a smile as when Jep was presented with his Chelsea pack. He grin was so wide, from ear-to-ear. I can see how much being in the Blues Camp means to him.”

[READ: 20 priceless lessons to learn from Chelsea FC players Torres, Oscar, Mata, and Nigeria’s own Victor Moses [READ]]

Jep’s backstory

Jep’s prim demeanor could be explained. He suffered tragedy three years ago when his father, the sole breadwinner died leaving his mother with three boys and a girl to care for. A year after his father’s sudden passing; Jep watched a Barcelona match, and fell in love with the sport and began to dream of playing football professionally.

Jep and team mate, Omar (Mexico) doing an Usain Bolt for his coach, Olly Woodall

Jep and team mate, Angel Hernandez (Mexico) doing an Usain Bolt for his coach, Olly Woodall

Soon after his father’s passing, Jep came under the care of the SOS Children’s Village in Gwagwalada. The non-governmental charity organisation has two modes of family based care – the resident programme for kids who don’t have any family ties and the outreach programme for children who have lost one or both parents but can still live with their families at home. Jep belongs to the latter.

“There are no words! For real. At the SOS facility, we teach the children life skills, but there is nothing you can teach that beats this Dream the Blues experience. It’s practical. Its impact is undeniable. In less than a week, Jep has shown a personality that I never knew he had. It’s amazing!” Programme Co-ordinator for Jep’s programme at the SOS Children’s Village, Charles Omofomwan speaking on the impact of the Dream the Blues Campaign on the youngster’s life. “How I wish all the kids at our facility would go through this same experience. Words cannot express our gratitude to Samsung for making this possible and there’s a huge reward for the seed the company has sown into Jep’s life.”

[READ: Meet Moses Magnut, the boy who represented Nigeria at the Samsung-Chelsea FC Dream the Blues Camp in London (PHOTOS)]

The SOS Children’s Village, which is focused on families, provides support to Jep’s family and his mother benefits from a grant from the NGO to build a business. You can read more about the work of the SOS Children’s Village and how to support the organisation here.

Jeb in training at the Blues Camp at Cobham, UK

Jeb in training at the Blues Camp at Cobham, UK with coach, Steve Winnet

[READ: 12 young lives changed forever as Samsung-Chelsea FC hold the Dream the Blues Campaign in London]

The experience of a lifetime

“Samsung invited us to bring our kids to the Dream the Blues camp in Lagos,” Omofomwan explains. “Jep was very happy to be selected. We were all so happy. It’s been an amazing journey.”

In addition to life skills, Jep sharpened his ball dribbling and passing skills at the camp. He learnt that football is essentially a team sport and the camaraderie between players is essential to success. Training at a world class facility with the best of coaches is not all he took away, he also made new friends.

Jeb Mallam and Mexican team mate, Miguel in the Chelsea players' changing room at Stamford Bridge

Jeb Mallam and Mexican team mate, Angel Hernandez in the Chelsea players’ changing room at Stamford Bridge

“My two best friends at the Dream the Blues Camp are Ishmael Mensah (Ghana) and Yang Jiajian (China). I pray we remain friends for life, I really like them,” Jep said, this time, with a smile.

To confirm this special bond, Jiajian showed up at the car port in front of the hotel, just to say goodbye to Jep just before we left for the airport. “Jep, bye-bye”, he said in a soft voice. Jiajian doesn’t speak English, he must have learnt this word just to say it to Jep.

Jep waved at him, saying nothing. Perhaps too moved by the emotions of parting from his new friends. It was an aw moment that will be hard to forget.

Jep with new  best friend, Ishmael (Ghana) and Angel Hernandez (Mexico) on the Chelsea press conference desk at Stamford Bridge

Jep with new best friend, Ishmael (Ghana) and Angel Hernandez (Mexico) on the Chelsea press conference desk at Stamford Bridge

Jeb meets his idol

Jep pases the ball to his football idol, Fernando Torres who is an Ambassador of Dream the Blues Campaign at Chelsea FC training camp at Cobham, UK

Jep passes the ball to his football idol, Fernando Torres who is an Ambassador of the Dream the Blues Campaign at Chelsea FC training camp at Cobham, UK

“Your dreams are real, they can come to pass, just work hard and don’t give up,” Chelsea player, Dream the Blues Ambassador, and Jep’s football hero, Fernando Torres told Jep and his team mates as he smiled down at them. Having met his football hero this week at the Blues Camp, a spring was added to Jep’s steps and his hidden bubbly personality showed up.

“I know I can one day play for a big club like Chelsea,” he said with a big grin after this destiny-defining meeting made possible by global giant, Samsung whose brand DNA is about making dreams come true.

Dream the Blues Ambassadors take a pose with Jep and his chaperon, Charles Omofonwan (from left) Oscar, Fernando Torres, Charles Omofonwan, Jep Mallam, Juan Mata, and Victor Moses

Dream the Blues Ambassadors take a pose with Jep and his chaperon (from left) Oscar, Fernando Torres, Charles Omofonwan of the SOS Children’s Village, Jep Mallam, Juan Mata, and Victor Moses

[READ: Chelsea Players Torres, Oscar, Mata, and Nigeria’s Victor Moses mentor 12 football loving kids at Dream the Blues Finale in London (PHOTOS)]

Returning home, loaded with possibilities

The Dream the Blues Finale was finally over, as we, the Nigerian delegates, made our walk to board the British Airways flight bound for Lagos, Jep became unusually quiet.

“Jep, what’s wrong?” Omofomwan asked. “What’s wrong Jep? You don’t want to go home?”

Jep nodded.

“Don’t worry Jep. We have to go home today, but one day, you’ll be back,” Omofonwan consoled him.

And I added, “Jep, not only will you be back here, but you’ll stay and play football as long as you want.” He nodded, as if to say, “I believe you.”

And on that note of high promise, we walked onto the airplane.

The life of the party - Jep assisting magician Paul Roffman at the closing dinner at the Ironmongers Hall at the London Museum

The life of the party – Jep assisting magician Paul Roffman at the closing dinner at the Ironmongers Hall at the London Museum

The life of the party - Jep assisting magician Paul Roffman at the closing dinner at the Ironmongers Hall at the London Museum

The life of the party – Jep assisting magician Paul Roffman at the closing dinner at the Ironmongers Hall at the London Museum

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YNaija was in London to cover this event courtesy of Samsung Electronics West Africa Limited


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  • It a great job well done 2 samsung nd d organiser’s.we need player of is ambition nd future 4 d growth nd development of nigerian sport nd 2 chelsea fc also from haytokes

    Haytokes May 25, 2013 7:14 am
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