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Football loving president

By Paul Bassey
I have a small story. True story.There was this sports commissioner who, while delivering speeches always made reference to “our sports loving governor”

Every time, he wants you to know that  “…thanks to our sports loving governor….. every thing will be okay”. Let me report here that throughout the eight-year tenure of that governor, he only honoured two sports engagements, one of it, a Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN ) Cup named after him.

This, is a true story. That governor’s tenure saw the decline of sports in the state in question and till now, that state  has not recovered from the eight-year decline.

Let’s move to the national scene where the same scenario applies, with aides touting the so-called love that Mr. President has for sports. On paper, Mr. President is dubbed the number one supporter of the Green Eagles. In the last twenty years, I could count on the fingers of one hand, the number of times a sitting president attended matches involving the national teams.

One of the reasons why some of us thought the late Bashorun Abiola should have been President of Nigeria was because we believed the country’s sports, especially football would have got a better deal.

How will a man who had a football club, followed them to matches outside Africa not support them, whole heartedly?
There are other instances where presidents and governors are advised not to attend matches, “… so that when they lose, they do not say it was because of your bad luck…..” the first time I heard this, I was disgusted, to say the least.

Now, back to Angola, where the President was able to draw to the opening ceremony, six heads of state. Yes, six. On that day, you could see him on cloud nine, beaming with pride, pumping the hands of his colleagues as Angola went on rampage, rifling four past Mali.

Then the tide changed, as Mali came back to equalise.
Ordinarily, one would have expected the President to be angry, very angry to have his compatriots disgrace him as it were, in front of his colleagues, yet he returned for the second match when the Angolans lined out for the victory against Malawi.

Then came the third match of the group, and again, Angola’s number one supporter was there, complete with his muffler,  relegating all presidential protocol as he lived all the emotions of the match, cheering his team to a quarter-final qualification.

Next time someone tells you that his governor or president is sports loving, cite the example of the Angolan president before telling him to sh.. up.


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