By Onochie Anibeze
AFTER a beautiful after- noon of good football (going by our standard), the crowd made a mess of the day.
It was so bad that Nigeria would have been sanctioned if it was an international match.
But it was Nigeriaâ€™s FA Cup final and those who should have sanctioned the offenders were the culprits.
Nigeria Football authorities did not make adequate arrangement for crowd control. It was a shame that fans invaded the pitch the moment the referee blew the final whistle.
Enyimba had beaten Sharks 1-0 to lift the FA Cup. Apart from the game proper, the other interesting side of a cup final is the medal and cup presentations.
They are usually colourful. The fans did not allow that at the Teslim Balogun Stadium last Sunday. BAD.Â I donâ€™t think that the Nigeria Football Federation, organisers of the event played their own part well.
Lagos hosted the show and governor Babatunde Fashola made sure thatÂ the glamour which which the cup lost for years was back. The crowd attendance made the game rich.
That we are celebrating crowd attendance in our FA Cup final speaks volumes of how bad things have degenerated with our football.
But we have to give it to Lagos State for trying to rebuild our football culture, a culture we lost for years and now prefer to Fly Emirates, join the Devil or sing the Blues. We have lost so many things in this country.
I pray we begin to get those things back as Fashola is doing in Lagos and Emmanuel Uduaghan doing in Delta.
I commend Fashola who hired buses to convey fans to the stadium free. But if we hadnâ€™t lost it in football, would someone be wooing us to the stadium for such a big match? It is a piece for another day.
For now, Letâ€™s commend Fashola for the crowd razmataz last Sunday. But what did he get in return? Did Lagos and their governor deserve what the NFF made of the show at the end?
Question for the NFF.
Poor crowd control has become such aÂ common development during big matches that followers of the game would be surprised if there were no issues during or after such games.
It is equally bad in Abuja. Tony Baffoe, the Ghanaian ex international who was the match commissioner for the Nigeria-Kenya match in Abuja noted security problems and almost wanted to put off the match.
It is important that the Federation redoubles their effort in the area of security and crowd control during international matches as Nigeria prepares to host Under 17 World Cup. They should do something about the chaotic traffic situations around the Abuja Stadium on match days.
Abuja Grand Prix
The last time I asked Solomon Ogba if track and field can fetch Nigeria Olympic gold medal again he was hesitant before he replied. And his response wasnâ€™t precise.
â€œIt all depends,â€ he started, enumerating the challenges before his federation and his plans for athletics before saying â€œyes, it is possible.â€
The state of Nigerian sports, track and field inclusive, is not what anyoneÂ can stick his neck out for.
That was probably why the AFN President didnâ€™t speak with authority when he answered my question. But he was confident about his plans for track and field. And he believes that it is achievable if the plans work out. He plans to engage foreign coaches.
The new AFN plans to introduce competitions in schools and start a programme for elite athletes too. Tomorrow, the Abuja Grand Prix will hold.
Many Nigerian athletes will compete against top athletes from USA, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Spain, Italy, Canada, South Africa, Belgium etc.
Tomorrow, Ogba and his board members will begin to assess some of our elite athletes.
There are chances that a few athletes of Nigerian parents may be running for the country for the first. AFN says that while the search for such athletes is on, stronger efforts to develop new ones will continue.
There should be short term and long term plans. The long term plans will have to do with taking track and field to school while the short term is what to do with some of the athletes who will compete tomorrow and next week when the Mobil Track and Field begins.
It is about programmes for London Olympics in 2012 etc. It is good that Abuja is hosting this Grand Prix. My only fear is the crowd attendance.
Abuja is a place you need a strong media and mobilisation campaigns for the residents to attend soccer games what more track and field.
But whatever happens, let us strive to sustain such a big event while making stronger efforts to develop our athletes and plan for them to make global impact so that our dream of winning Olympic gold medals again can become a reality.
Williams Sisters from Africa.
Early morning last Friday, I received a text that impressed so much thatÂ I intend to do piece on it some other day. The reactions on my piece on tennis were encouraging.
It really showed how much many care about this sport that excites and which can keep you on your seat for more than four hours watching one game. The author of the particular text in question did not add his or her name. It simply read:
I have just finished reading your piece on the state of Nigerian tennis. Donâ€™t worry.
Just like I have promised Adekunle Salami of the Punch Newspaper, the world should watch out for my daughters in years to come. God helping us, they will be the new Williams sisters to emerge from Africa. That we owe Nigeria. 08033898873