By Ikeddy Isiguzo
WILLY Bazuaye epitomises the best and worst of the fate of Nigerian athletes. A former international, a coach with the Eagles, especially the U-20 team that won at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, he has been down with stroke since 2003.
His story makes you wonder what this country is about. He needs just N5 million to regain use of his legs. The Nigeria Football Association where he was engaged on contract, when he fell ill, would have nothing to do with him.
It is the type of attention the NFA pays to those who have served the country, through its thoughtlessness, through its absolute refusal to create dignity for those who laboured for Nigeria. While at it, the NFA would preach patriotism that translates to nothing when our heroes are down. How can this happen to Bazuaye?
This man holds the national honour of Member Order of the Niger, MON. He had a stroke since 2003, spending his meagre savings to procure the minimal reliefs he could afford. He is down to his family catering for him. The NFA has no use for him.
Possibly, there are no more memories of him in the NFA, where he was once looked up to for results on which some have ridden to claims of champions of football administration in Nigeria.
Bazuaye was one of Nigeriaâ€™s most successful coaches, the man that produced the New Nigerian Bank team from which the Keshis and Nwosus and a generation of national team players emerged. The team rode on technical finesse, youth and competitiveness of its members (qualities still lacking in our national teams) to gain prominence even outside Nigeria.
â€œI want Nigerians to come to my aid and help me out of my present condition. My health is failing. My savings are all gone and it has been difficult for me to walk, let alone doing any meaningful thing,â€ he told a newspaper on his sick bed in Benin City.
â€œBetween 2003 and now, I have spent all my savings and those of my children on this ailment, which has restricted me to my house.â€ Bazuaye is 71, but has spent the past seven years in the pains of his incapacitation. Some moments were more painful than the bodily pains.
One of them would be the response of the NFA to his request for assistance. He was told he was not a staff (he was on contract) so the NFA could not help him. The NFA has maintained this position on a former national player, an Olympic winning coach since 2003!
Bazuaye needs help. We must rally round him. Older players, coaches, the media, his former players, football fans should help him.
We can avoid future disgrace by ensuring that only those who care about athletes, present and past, manage our sports.
If you want to contribute to restoring Bazuayeâ€™s health please email email@example.com today. We cannot wait for the NFA, it will do nothing.
Adieu, Chief Idowu
MANY would attempt to claim Chief Nathaniel Idowu. Some say he is a businessman, others see him as a football financier and promoter. Those from Ibadan boast he was one of their best sons. He was all and more.
Chief Idowu, who weeks back lost his decade-long battle to stroke, had expansive interests. His concerns for sports stretched the Olympic movement in Nigeria, where he was outstandingly unsung.
Some would be surprised he was the Chairman of the committee that wrote the document that produced Decree 10, the law that commenced professional football in Nigeria 20 years ago. Unfortunately, almost all the prescriptions of that law, among them, registration of professional clubs as businesses were later thrown away by those who profit from ruining our football.
His leadership of that committee was not by accident. Early in 1984, when everyone worried about the new military administration, and how the Green Eagles would fare at the Nations Cup with Coach Adegboye Onigbinde (he got the job without pedigree, but finished second) Chief Idowu bravely summoned the first meeting to discuss professional football in Nigeria at an Ikeja hotel that is now a residential apartment.
The communiquÃ© wanted professional football immediately. It took another six years to become reality.
His son Philip is the 2009 World Championship triple jump winner, and one of Britainâ€™s gold prospects at the 2012 London Olympics.
Adieu Chief, your works will always speak for you.
Our Now Coach
DRUMS should be rolled out, I imagine, celebrating Nigeria signing on 61-year-old Swede, Lars Lagerback as Eagles coach. Others hire coaches without the noise NFA makes. Will NFA apply similar vigour to uncover who stole $236,000 from its coffers a year ago?
This coach is strictly for the World Cup. Next search should be 2010 World Cup players, but I heard NFAâ€™s priority is a World Cup song.
IN the edition of 19 February 2010 in tribute to Alhaji Abdulkareem Amu, the Chigbo who was Chairman of the AAAN and former Biafran ambassador to Cote dâ€™Ivoire was PETER not Thomas Chigbo, a journalist from The Renaissance, East Central Stateâ€™s newspaper, later Daily Star.
Thomas was Commissioner for Information to Governor Jim Nwobodo 31 years ago. My gratitude goes to Edwin Eze, Director of Information, Enugu State Sports Council, for drawing my attention to the mix-up.
Please email comments, condemnations, or commendations to firstname.lastname@example.org