By Ikeddy Isiguzo
THERE are too many inspiring stories from Africa that we can ignore them mostly at our own risk. At a time the African Union could only raise $20 million (N3.1 b) for the famine victims in Somalia, an individual -Samuel Eto’o – is earning 20 euro (N4.2b) a year.
Let me put some perspectives to it. Eto’o, a Cameroonian, who has played at our National Stadium, including during the 2000 Nations Cup final which we lost to Cameroon, earns N350 million a month, N11,666,666 a day, N486,111 an hour, N8,101.85 a minute. He plays football, like millions of people who play as professionals. He is not just the best-paid footballer in the world, but he is one of the best, on and off the pitch and one of the most humble human being you can encounter.
He is playing for Anzhi Makhachkala, a rich Russian club on the shores of the Caspian Sea, where oil and steel billionaire Suleiman Kerimov has made him the richest footballer on earth.
How has Eto’o managed to remain humble with all he has achieved? He would surely present a good study on the achievements of African footballers, as well as their failures, for he, like some of them, could have aimed so low that he hit and celebrate low targets. Why are few Africans making the mark at the global stage? Why would Eto’o remain committed to Cameroon where he stands no chance of gaining the ultimate, the World Cup?
Eto’o has grown in his game. When he left Barcelona after the tremendous contributions that he made to their UEFA Champions League success to Inter Milan, Eto’o was a bitter man. He thought he was unappreciated, as the negotiations lingered. He wanted Barcelona; the Catalan club did not want him. He moved to Inter where he won the treble with Jose Mourinho, the same feat he achieved in Barcelona.
He is Africa’s most decorated footballer, the highest all-time scorer (18 goals) at the Nations Cup, winner of an Olympic gold in 2000, debuted for Cameroon at 16 and one of only four players to have won the UEFA Champions League back to back with different teams, and father of four. His other records litter Mallorca and Real Madrid, the other clubs where he has been.
More fortune awaited him elsewhere. Could Barcelona have paid the four-time African Footballer of the Year what he is getting in Russia? Debates are growing about the wisdom of Eto’o taking his trade to a place where he may not play quality football.
The position can only increase the debates. The influx of other top players to Russia, whose businessmen see football as a veritable venture for splashing their wealth, may result in the shift of the balance in the game in Europe. Just imagine what Eto’o can do with his monthly earning, no matter the taxes and commitments to his personal managers and staff.
Clubs are not known to splash that much on a 30-year-old, who in real terms would be seen as a great risk. Eto’o has defied those calculations, breaking new grounds. If he applies himself as he always does, the World Footballer of the Year may not be too far from his grips.
He would have followed in the steps of the Liberian George Weah, who became the FIFA World Football of the Year in 1995 – his country has never qualified for the World Cup, and he was nowhere near what Eto’o has done.
Great lessons abound in the Eto’o success for our footballers. They have to look up. Their ambitions are too low. Our football administrators too have to start thinking of the global stage by raising the standards of our players from the domestic league, which has been ruined through sheer greed, which breeds incompetence.
Drugs – More Serious Than We Think
The World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, is not resting in its resolve to eliminate performance-enhancing drug. Nicotine is next on list of the substances WADA is considering.
WADA’s year-long study said increased ‘’vigilance and cognitive function’’ and reduced stress and body weight were among the performance-enhancing effects of nicotine.
‘’Interestingly, nicotine also triggers a significant increase of pulse rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and epinephrine release owing to simultaneous stimulant and relaxant properties,’’ the report said.
Smokeless tobacco, popular among golfers, is rated a good performance enhancer. Golfers are under close watch as their sport returns to the Olympics programme at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Mexican athletes to the Pan American Games that hold from October 14–30, 2011 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, with some events held in nearby cities of Ciudad Guzmán, Puerto Vallarta, Lagos de Moreno and Tapalpa, are avoiding beef and taco. There are fears that the processing of the items has ingredients that might result in their consumers testing positive for banned drugs.
Where does Nigeria stand in all these? We shall find out soon.
Congrats, Team Nigeria
SHEER resilience saw Team Nigeria to a third place finishing at the 10th All Africa Games in Maputo. It was almost second, but for Egypt’s last minute surge. The result is a surprise if one considers Nigeria’s preparations. Will the result make Team Nigeria work harder? Will it improve preparations or will it be an additional reason for the late release of resources for the Olympic Games?