By Eddie Akalonu
The FIFA U-17 WorldÂ Cup, Nigeria 2009 may have come and gone but a great â€˜off the fieldâ€™ feature of the championship was the expose concerning alleged age discrepancies of captain of the Nigerian side, Fortune Chukwudi by no less a person than ex- international Adokie Amiesimaka, an issue that would continue to reverberate on the national scene for a long time to come.
WhileÂ many in the society, including the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, faulted the former Sharks FC chairman and Green Eagles winger on his action, others roundly condemned him on account ofÂ timing of his disclosure.
However, a football stake holder and chairman of Gabros International Football Club of Nnewi, Chief Gabriel Chukwuma who rose in defence of Amiesimaka in a chat with Saturday Vanguard Sports, said â€œmy personal understanding of the issue was that he (Adokie) as a person was neither out to embarrass the country, nor bring football to disrepute.
I know him as a gentleman, he loves the game he played so well and understands its inherent politics as an administrator. So, he would not have made the statement to kill football in our country. People should understand his stand- point and spare him. I have operatedÂ Gabros in the league for 10 years or more so, I understand what is going on.
Thatâ€™s why I would appeal for an understanding of the situation. The only problem I have with the issue is that Adokie should have taken into account the future of the player when making that statement. The boyâ€™s future was very important in such issues no matter how contentious they become.
That alone could have made him hold back from my point of view but we all agree that wrongs in our football should be corrected. You know we club owners, see more and could be consulted for solutions by the relevant body,â€ the former Nigeria Football Association first vice chairman declared.
However, the Gabros FC boss voiced his personal congratulations to theÂ country and NFF on the successful execution of the U-17 championship, saying the team also showed tough guts by the level the reached in the competition
On the future of Gabros International, now campaigning in the National Division One, having been relegated after years in the elite Premier League, Chief Chukwuma disclosed that a reorganization plan is on that would see the club bounce back into the elite League.
â€œWe have concluded plans with a sponsor to inject some life into the team. Soon, when the plans go into force, Gabros will work itâ€™s way back to the top, not just one of the best run teams in the country, but a contender for top honours,â€ he stated.