SPORT is a viable unifying factor in Nigeria, it is during sports competitions that you will see Nigerians coming together irrespective of their differences and speak with one voice. In fact when you want to see Nigerians happy, wait till any of the National Soccer team win a tournament or a very important match, then you will see Nigerians happy and affirming that we are brothers.
I remember during Atlanta 1996 victory over Brazil and Argentina in the semi final and final matches respectively, I saw Nigerians throng out jubilating and singing praises to God almighty irrespective of their religions and states of origin.
The miracle of Daman in Saudi 1989 by the flying Eagles also witness the same jubilation by all and sundry and other subsequent triumphant outing in any tournament by any of the Nigerian soccer team and other sporting events. To say Nigerians are sport lovers is an understatement, someone once said that football is the religion of the Nigerian people, football and other sports is followed in Nigerian by all irrespective of status.
But in recent times almost all the national soccer team and other sports are not doing very well in both local and international competitions, Nigeria a nation of over 140 million talented people, anywhere you go in the world today you must find a Nigerian doing one thing or the other particularly in the world of sports.
In almost all the major football leagues in the world Nigerians are there plying their trades, the likes of Kanu Nwakwo, Mikel Obi, Yakubu Ayegbeni, Joseph Yobo, the Kalus, Martins the number is countless, but one wonder what are the problems with our sports today, people are asking questions that where is the dedication and determination of the Eagles of the 1980 nations cup, the Tunisia and USA 1994 squad, the Atlanta 1996 Olympic team.
The abysmal outing in the Beijing Olympic is so disheartening. In recent times Nigeria national teams struggle to win matches against teams like Niger Republic, Benin Republic and their likes the recent lackluster outing against the Mozambique national team that spark off criticism against the chief tactician of the senior national team in person of Mr. Amodu Shuaibu both at home and abroad by Nigerians.
Most of the critical voices against Amodu are right while some are very wrong, in fact as a coach in recent times Amodu has not done badly base on the following matches’ records:
2010 Nation and World Cup qualifiers and Friendly matches under Amodu Shuaibu
o Nigeria 2 v 0 South Africa, 1 June 2008
o Sierra Leone 0 v 1 Nigeria, 7 June 2008
o Equatorial Guinea 0 v 1 Nigeria, 15 June 2008
o Nigeria 2 v 0 Equatorial Guinea, 21 June 2008
o South Africa 0 v 1 Nigeria, 5 September 2008
o Nigeria 4 v 1 Sierra Leone, 11 October 2008
o Mozambique 0 v 0 Nigeria, 29 March 2009
o Nigeria 0 - 1 Australia, 17 November 2007
o Nigeria 1 - 0 Switzerland, November 20, 2007
o Nigeria 2 - 0 Sudan, 9 January 2008
o Nigeria 1 - 1 Austria, 27 May 2008
o Nigeria 0 - 1 Colombia, 19 November 2008
o Nigeria 0 - 0 Jamaica, 11 February 2009
This performance is above par if not excellent, but what Nigerians are afraid of is the repeat of the Germany 2006 qualifiers when Angola denied Nigeria from participating in the most prestigious global football fiesta due to poor starting in the qualifiers by the Super Eagles.
But the dwindling fortune of Nigeria football and other sporting activities is beyond one person or one coach, we have sack a number of coaches due to poor performance in major outing or during qualifiers, but all these have not solve the problems, I thought Nigeria as a nation must have learnt her lesson by the sad event in 2006 when Angola stop us from participating in the last world cup, but nothing was done to forestall the repeat of such.
Now you will agree with me that those in charge of sports administration in our country lack the technical acumen and the foresight require to take us to the desire place, the right leadership is not provided, our sports men and women are not encouraged to participate in sports, almost all the sporting events in the country that were flourishing in the past are now dry while some have suffered extinction.
Athletes are not encouraged to be hardworking because the basic infrastructure that will motivate them to do so are not provided, our sports men and women are left demotivated and demoralized, some of them are like beggars on the streets of our major cities in the course of pursuing their careers.
It is very sad and pathetic the situation of most of these sports men and women who took the risk to take sport as a career in this country, yes it is very risky to be a sportsman in Nigeria, because there is the possibility you will end up a beggar in the future because no programme is put in place to support and encourage sports men and women, no deliberate plan that will help them after retirement, no good insurance programme and policies for them and you expect them to stake their lives for the country, while some few people dabble with funds met for the sportsmen/women.
Those who excel in sports in Nigeria are more of their personal efforts and not government support or any deliberate actions taken by the government example abound there is no need mentioning names.
The poor outing of the Super Eagles in Mozambique, some people were calling on Amodu to look inward for qualifiers, that is to use the home base Eagles to prosecute his assignment, well for people to be calling for the use of home base squad is not out of place, but the situation in Nigeria must be known to us that our home base cannot be use for the enormous task, not because the boys to use are not there, but because the league at home does not provide the right players that can be use to face the present challenges in modern day football.
The truth is that we don’t even have a vibrant league, our home base players are treated like slaves by their various clubs, the truth is that we don’t have professional football clubs in Nigeria, the players are not respected, the situation is so bad that players of professional clubs go begging on streets for food, because their salaries and other allowances are not paid and the NPL is doing nothing.
A case in hand is that of the Nasarawa United FC of Nasarawa State, this is a state government team, whose the players once come out protesting for non-payment of salaries, sign on fees and other allowances and how do you expected such players to survive not to talk of being motivated to play the game, cases likes this abound, virtually all our clubs hardly pay players their entitlements, proper contract is not enter into.
Most of the clubs are manage by politicians who use the football club as a tool for campaign rather than to promote the growth and development of the game, little wonder our stadium are taken over by tugs and hooligans who the politicians use to pressurize referees to favour their clubs and ensure that their clubs win matches at all cost and in most cases cause commotion in the stadium.
For we to move forward in sports, deliberate action need to be taken by those in authority to ensure proper organization of our league though the Obaseki led Global Com Premier league is improving by the day, but more is required to be done, like the registration of clubs, only clubs that are professional should be registered even it is only six clubs that can treat players like professional only those club should be registered. Professionals, those with the technical knowhow should be engaged in running of our football, and these politicians should be flush out of the system.
The problem of our football must be address from the grassroots, the schools competitions must be resurrected, the principals cups, the NUGA, NIPOGA and their likes must be given adequate attention, until our league is able to give us a desire national team that will enable us to look inward as some people are calling, so that we will be less depended on our foreign base players to enable stress-free execution of our matches, the league must be properly manage, package and delivered to the Nigerian people through a sound marketing strategy.
The English Premier League that is widely follow in the world today is possible not because England as a nation have better players compare to what we have, no but because professional are engage in the running of the league and not tugs and hooligans and in recent times is paying off for their different national teams, in fact the league is adjudge the best league in the world today and every Nigerians is a proud fan of one club or the other in England knowing all the clubs records and not the indigenous clubs.
You hear people shouting Man U for Life, Arsenal for, or Real Madrid or Barcelona till I die and hardly you hear people saying Eyimba for life, Heartland, Kano Pillars, Ranchers Bees, or Bayelsa United for Life. Even the NFF executives I believe they are Fan of English premier league clubs, even our top government functionaries also support these clubs and still could not do anything to salvage our league and have a better league that can compete with most of these leagues in the world.
Even on our national media both the print and electronic media the foreign leagues are given more priority compare to our own local league. Now tell me how do we grow?
Since the inception of the African Women Championship in Africa, the super Falcon has dominated and won all the previous events except the last edition, and the thing for NFF is to lay their sledgehammer on the coaches and the Ladies, but do not ask themselves what programme have we put in place to encourage more girls to participate in football inorder to replace the aging players, we have not asked ourselves questions such as what other countries are doing to improve their leagues and their sporting activities that we are not doing?
But we only wait for any poor performance by any of the national team, the next thing you hear is sacking of the coaches and disbandment of team and all sorts of things. All these will not take our sport anywhere, until the sport ministry is made to be more vibrant, encourage government-private sector partnership to support sporting activities, the sport ministry need re-direction, right policies that will provide the right culture for our sporting activities that will bring joy and happiness to Nigerians and also provide employment for the teeming unemployed youths of Nigerians.
Sport is not only a mere exercising body, but is also a vibrant sector of the economy, which can improve our standard of living and lessen the pressure on other sector of the economy.
The obvious important of sports to nation building now call for adequate attention to be given to the sector, professional, those with the knowledge of sports that can provide the right leadership in the sector should be engage, government must provide the necessary support and make necessary legislation that will fast track the development of sports so that the gains will be forthcoming and also supervise our sporting activities to ensure compliance and gradually we will get there.
SENATOR SULEIMAN NASIRU is a 400 level (HND II) student of Business Administration and Management Studies in the Federal Polytechnic, Idah Kogi State also represent Nabams in the Student Union Government (SUG) of 2008/2009 Acedemic session
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idris abu clear lake, usa May 03, 2009
If dummies are selected by profound dummies to chose a coach , what do you expect? a genius?
Of course not, a double whammy dummy, from galadima to lulu to ndanusa, do you think these folks care on the path of progress nigeria is heading, never, the bottom line is linning their pockets with monies meant for soccer development, nigeria used to strike fears in any opponent in this world,thanks to these clowns in succession, they have ruined the glorious game nigeria covet so much.
Abacha where are you? in your time, nigeria was the toast of the universe in soccer, now with dummy musa yara do nothing, with the so called AGF aondoakaa there to get a cut of loot from various parastatals, nigeria has plunged into abbys of soccer nobody.....
Once a soccer power house now a door mat for any international team. thanks to another product of a the dummy institution, the so called coach amodu shaibu. this man is not a coach period.
I can guarantee you anything, nigeria is not going to the copa mudial in south africa come 2010 if the problem is not addressed quickly. flushout the so call glass house adminitrators and give amodu shaibu the red card, call quickly mr wesrhof to come to our rescue else..........................no world cup qualifier for us again.
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