By Paul Bassey
I live in Lagos. I counted myself lucky that this time I did not have to travel out for the National Sports Festival. This time the festival was to be brought to my doorstep.
So far I have been disappointed.
The expected excitement, fun, colour, pomp and carnival attributes of the festival have not gotten to me. Not that it did in previous years.
Yes, Lagos can claim to have hosted, so far, a peaceful Games. Despite arguments and disagreements, reconciliation is not always far behind, all because Lagos has declared and loudly too that it was not hosting to win!
In the past, we had issues with states who believed that hosting was a passport to victory and everything, repeat everything was done to make sure, hook or crook that victory came by the way of the hosting state.
My friend General Okaro who is Director Games Services, will disagree and vehemently too with the accusation that even the NSC had sympathy with the hosting states and for agreeing to host, for spending so much money, they deserved to be “ compensated”
Lagos has been different. Peace prevails.
But what about readiness to host?
CAF, before then FIFA and even the IOC has been faced with the headaches of host countries and cities not being competition ready. What these international organizations have done overtime is to pick host three editions away. Otherwise put, host of their events have as many as 12, some 16 years to prepare to host. In Nigeria we should not shy away from such a system although my son tells me that it may not be very different in an environment where we still leave everything till the last minute.
That in Nigeria, even when we know that there is an Olympics Games to be held in eight years, we do not even care to budget for same until the last minute.
The argument of the young man is that while the NSC or whoever is in the process of preparing for the Rio games (If they are) a group, a committee, a body should be set aside and funded accordingly to prepare for the Games after Rio.
Hear him. “ This committee will know that they have eight years to produce Olympic materials, they will know the age grade they will be working with and track such athletes who, undoubtedly will have to be found in schools.
“ For you to represent the country in eight years time, then you must be eight, nine or ten years old today” he argued and soundly too.
Hosting, like I argued last week, also confers on states and cities the privilege of developing infrastructure. Lagos did not have the time to put up a Games village, so they had to wait, or force University of Lagos and the Yaba College of Technology to vacate for them to start splashing paint on the walls, on the eve of competition.
Back to the competition proper. Who will win the Games? I don’t care. Rather, I am looking forward to that news that will scream the discovery of a potential champion and the story of the coach who engineered such a discovery. Waiting.
At this stage I can say as every Nigerian, “He go better” when exactly, I do not know.
The NFF, NPL Resolution
Was delighted to hear last week that the Nigeria Premier League imbrioglio has been resolved after a meeting with the Nigeria Football Federation.
While the impasse was on I remember having a brief chat with the Honourable minister of Sports and his desire to have the issue resolved amicably. “…… At this point in time (Nations Cup preparations) we cannot afford any distractions in the house of football. I pray for a speedy and realistic resolution of the problem to enable us go ahead with a credible league”
I want to believe that that is exactly what was done, leading to the decision to go ahead with the NPL Congress where the commencement of the league will be tabled, discussed and adopted for ratification.
As our league managers get set to leave for Kano I want to beg them in the name of the youths of this country to please guarantee that what happened last year does not repeat itself. I do not mind one or two months delay, if that will help us to sanitise the system before we proceed.
A good organization that involves mid week fixtures and the study of FIFA, CAF and even NFF calendar can guarantee a smooth take off and finish of the league different from the mix ups in the past. Also, we should endeavour to bring to an end the vexing issue of sponsorship log jam that has left the league comatose.
Pray, can the winner of the Premier league look forward to at least 25 million naira as prize money? A sum that is considered chicken feed when put side by side with what clubs spend in a season to get to such title positions.
In brief there should be no hurry at the Kano meeting. No hurry at all.
Hurray ‘Alibay’ is 80
There will be a new face in the Secretary General’s row at the NFF Annual General Assembly scheduled for Port Harcourt on December 13. It will be that of Herbert Omokhaye who served as Secretary General Of the Nigeria Football Association from May 1964 to December 1965 under the Chairmanship of Chief Chuba Ikpeazu.
Don’t ask me why it has taken this long to identify and rectify history involving this servant of football who while as a player in Methodist Boys high School in 1947 had his Herbert name corrupted to ‘Albert’ hence the nickname ‘Alibay’
Boasting a rich football history that spans over 60 years, Mr Omokhaye played Association football with FCOA, UAC and Federal United from 1951 to 1961.
In 1962 he was elected General Secretary of the Lagos Amateur Football Association ( LAFA) and was subsequently appointed Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Association form May 1964 to December 1965. Before then he was General Secretary of the Nigeria Referees Association form 1980 to 1983.
Mr Omokhaye was identified a few months ago when the NFF leadership arrived Lagos to receive the new Federation Cup from the Lagos State Governor and met Mr Omokhaye who was then a member of the Organising Committee of the Federation Cup.
Born on November 28 , 80 years ago, On Saturday December 8, children, friends and colleagues and will gather in Lagos at the Ajao International School in Victoria Island to accord this tested football administrator a befitting 80 years anniversary.
Happy birthday Alibay and Congratulations.
See you next week