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Owumi, Principals Cup and other breath of fresh air

By Paul Bassey
This week, I have decided to enjoy myself. This week I will not get angry unnecessarily, writing about Super Eagles, NFF and other topics that enrage my readers and even attract scathing comments all week long.

This week, I want to write on four events that kept me not only happy, but filled me with hope that all is not yet lost for sports in this great country of ours.

In no particular order, let me start.

Davidson Owumi at the NPL

When I heard that Davidson Owumi had been elected the next chairman of the Nigerian Premier League (And by implication second vice chairman of the NFF) I sent him a symbolic text message that had to do with standing the test of time. In the good book, Zechariah Chapter 13 v:9 it is stated “And I will bring the third part through the fire and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name and I will hear them: I will say, it is my people: and they shall say, the Lord is my God.”

I am one of those who can tell the story of Davidson Owumi, especially in the dispensation of the last NPL board where we served together in the Organising and Disciplinary Committee for two seasons before the NFF decided to hijack the committee, and throw people like Owumi out.

Here is a man that was persecuted, hounded and banned for sticking to his principle; abandoned family and squatted in Abuja to see the struggle through.

Here is a man whose loyalty could not be questioned, yet he had cause to shed tears as he nearly regretted his actions advantage NPL.

Today, I believe and sincerely too, that here is a reward of sorts for labour past. Let me not bore my readers with the credentials of a man who played football at the highest level, administered the game at the highest level, graduated to become the chairman of the club owners association, became a quasi staff of the NPL where he mastered the politics only to decide to give leadership a shot.

(Owumi is one of those few Nigerians whose life revolves around football- Segun Odegbami, Dominic Iorfa, of late, Mutiu Adepoju….to mention a few of those who played and administered the game).

I do not know how Rumson Baribote believed he could beat an Owumi in the football league terrain. No he can not. Even if the election is held nine times, ten times will Owumi win.

Davidson went through the fire of football in Nigeria in order to emerge as gold. In the last dispensation we had a moving train at the helm of affairs. This time around, an “okada” is in charge, one that has to manouvre carefully to be able to avoid all the mines that lie ahead. If Davidson Owumi ( I call him Reverend ) could survive the politics of running Rangers in Enugu, the NPL, with the cooperation of all of us, could just be a piece of cake.

Congratulations sir and welcome on board.

Kunle Solaja’s book on Super Eagles
For the first time in a long while I saw the NFF come out in full force to support a project not initiated by them. The master of ceremony of the day Talkative Tony Ubani also made us remember that the powerful Sanni Lulu-led team were also punctual to boot.

It has become fashionable for us to notice the absence of the leadership of the football house in key football functions. Last Tuesday was an exception as friends, well wishers and colleagues turned up in great number to honour a man who has cultivated the passion for record keeping.

Led by Chairman Alex Akinyele, the list of those present was a veritable who’s who in Nigerian football. On the high table were Dr. Patrick Ekeji, Chief Onigbinde, Fabio Lanipekun, Sunny Badru, Emmanuel Amuneke, Taribo West, Taiwo Ogunjobi.

Also present were Chief Jonathan Ogufere, Austin Akosa, Dr. Phil Osagie Herbert Omokhaye, Prince Oduah, Chief Falilat Ogunkoya-Omotayo, Professor Omotayo, Dudu Orumen, Mumini Alao, Dr. Rauf Ladipo, Tayo Balogun, Taye Ige, Aisha Falode, Nneka Anibeze, Chuka Mommah, Demola Olajire, The high hierarchy of the Sun family led by Awoyinfa and Igwe………….I could go on and on at the risk of offending those I cannot remember immediately.

In a country lacking basic intellectual materials in sports as pointed out by Chief Ogufere, President of Association of Sports Veterans Nigeria, it was not only Kunle’s day. We all basked in the glory of a soccer historian who has given us a veritable reference material that only he, can better.

Well done FIFA (that is what I call him)
Lagos State GTB Principals Cup
I thank Fela Bank- Olemoh, Chief executive officer of Media Vision for not only inviting me, but making sure I was present at the finals of the Guarantee Trust Bank sponsored Principals Cup competition in Lagos state.

As an old boy of Saint Finbarr’s College eight times winner of the cup, I saw myself going back in history reliving those glory days when schools contributed in producing some of the best footballers this country ever paraded. Today, we delight in shaving the beards and powdering the faces of old men, parade them as youth, all in the pursuit of vain glory.

It was fun, it was colourful, and did the kids enjoy themselves as they cheered and cheered their schools. On the field of play, you could see promise written all over the students whose young ages you could not dispute.

I was happy to hear that the national coach of the U-17, was there to pick some players. I only pray it will not turn out to be another Lagerback magic of “picking and dropping”!

More enduring for me are the legacies being built around the competition like the Heritage and Tournament Ambassadors programme……raising not just footballers, but lawyers, doctors, journalists, bankers etc.

I thank the Lagos state government, I commend Guarantee Trust Bank and bless Media Vision for this renaissance that will not only revive football in Lagos State but whose ripple effect and fruits we will definitely reap, sooner than later.

BON, OSMI Partnership for the World Cup
I was a beneficiary of the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria, Optima Sports Management International (OSMI) broadcasters workshop aimed at fine tuning personnel for the forth coming 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa.

The second in the series, the workshop covered accreditation, production, satellite bookings, training of presenters and engineers. The workshop was so detailed that even minute details like visa application and acquisition, yellow card and accreditations were not left out. Those who attended commended the organizers for the far sightedness and wished the Super Eagles were as prepared as the broadcasters have been….genuine wish.

Paraphrase

Lagerback: I have seen the tapes of Shittu in Angola. He is very committed and dedicated. Even if he did not play any match, I can work on him.

Capello: Yes Ashley Cole is recovering from injury, but that is not enough. He has to be fit. He should play more matches before the World Cup.
See you next week


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