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Dear Minister, President, come to Eket

By Paul Bassey

For the benefit of my rising band of readers let me repeat the fact that this column usually goes in on Friday sometimes as early as noon.

What this means and sadly too is that I will not be in a position to discuss the decisive CAF Champions league return leg cracker between Kano Pillars and Heartland.

Sad, that I cannot proclaim who has made it to the final after the Naze Millionaires took such an emphatic lead over favoured Pillars.

Football being what it is, I cannot even take a risk and say it was Heartland.

Because I went to bed on Friday, I cannot comment on the result of Super Eagles match against Mozambique, or most importantly, put it side by side with the result of Tunisia’s match against Kenya, a result that will determine whether we should continue fasting, begging Baba God to forgive our wayward past and have mercy.

Because production deadlines have to be met, I submitted my script without knowing whether Messi and co gave Maradona some breathing space as Argentina faced the grim reality of non qualification for FIFA World Cup 2010. The interest over Argentina’s fate can also be extended to Egypt whose pedigree and professionalism was expected to be a plus as Africa seeks to field its strongest squad yet, at a world cup.

Yesterday, I was in Abuja for the top of the bill MTN-AIT Football Awards that will help to add glamour and revolutionise the round leather game in this country. Alas my column was already in the works, so I cannot talk about the winners and the glitz that was brought to bear on the event as televised live by AIT and broadcast by Raypower FM.

However, I was at  a press conference on Friday to update journalist on the awards. As chairman of the award panel, I nearly did not answer a question posed  on a so called threat by the NFF to stop the awards. I believed answering the question was a waste of time.

That in 2009, a football federation will come out and threaten an award ceremony launched by a private concern? That they own football in Nigeria? Incredible.

I am at the verge of launching my own football awards for secondary schools in my community. Let them come and stop me. What an unnecessary distraction.

Coming immediately after the Flying Eagles flop in Egypt, one was expecting a very sober body to go into hiding after another disastrous but predictable outing, yet they chose to display their ignorance in public. Good they did, because every day we get to know better, the quality of undertakers we appointed to kill and bury our football.

While I am at it, serves Coach Siasia right. In more than one article, in television interviews, I advised against taking a team that had been messed up, that the time was too short to effect any positive change.

Riding on the wave of public adulation, anxious to climb the ladder of success, driven by ambition and basking on past glory, he left for Egypt and today, despite a spirited campaign by his admirers, he is on the floor as far as opinion poll is concerned. Question is, who fielded HARUNA and co? the answer is Sia Sia, full stop.

He will continue to carry the can as this blur, black spot, takes prominent shape on his erstwhile immaculate credentials.

There is even a rumour that those sympathetic to Amodu threw a party to celebrate the “success of the man who wants to coach the Super Eagles”

I digress.

Today as you are reading this and by the grace of God I am on my way to Uyo,( of course, capital of Akwa Ibom state) where tomorrow, NNPC and Mobil Producing Nigeria will unveil the ninth edition of track and field championship for schools and colleges in the state.

I count myself lucky to have been given the privilege to midwife this developmental event by Engineer Adeyemi Wilson, then President of AFN and External Affairs Manager of MPN.

WITH Isong Akpabio as my supervisor and Joe Aken Ova working miracles in Eket, we launched what has come to be accepted today as the only of its kind in the country.

Every year for the past eight years, I have combed the nooks and crannies of Akwa Ibom in search of potentials in track and field. Meanwhile let me appreciate the standard and quality of the organization that has been graced by all the sports ministers before Engineer Ndanusa.

The year Mobil decided to incorporate a one off scholarship grant to aid the students, we were honoured by the additional presence of the minister of education. Eket is destination of choice.

Because the championship is entitled Akwa Ibom State NNPC/MPN Schools Athletics Championship, two years ago, His Excellency Governor Godswill Akpabio descended on the final with the full retinue of his office and Eket Stadium was a sight to behold.

Last year, NNPC/Mobil rolled out the red carpet to celebrate two of her graduates who, under the tutelage of Yusuf Ali, are now undergraduates of the University of Lagos.

The former national athletics captain as guest of the championship was quick to spot the future in Enobong James, a long jumper and Ifiok Andrew, a sprinter. Within a short span of less than two years, both have improved to represent their university at the West Africa University Games ( WAUG)  and only recently, Ifiok was in the national team to the World Junior Track and Field Championship in Rome, Italy! Dividends of a Mobil determination of vowing not to allow brilliant minds go to waste.

As last year’s winners get set to collect their cash tomorrow, and as we get set to kick off this year’s championship, here is inviting the minister of Sports and the new president of AFN to come to Eket.

Eket is the future of our track and field, Eket is the foundation we very much desire, Eket is the hope and the antidote and the potion that will quicken our recovery from the heart break of Berlin.
Please come to Eket.

The funny side of life

Today let us tell the pathetic story of a lady who was going nuts as football had virtually replaced her in the life of her husband. She had to run to a friend for some advice.

Friend: Open a door into his life. You must be interested in football. You must suspend everything and watch matches with him. You should follow him to the stadium and if you cannot go, when he comes back, discuss the game ,ask him how it went, and so on.

Lady: but how? I do not know anything about football.

Friend: then learn. Get used to key terms. How was the match? Was the referee fair? Who won? What was the result at half time? Who scored the goals? When is the return leg……..learn.

One fateful day, the husband came back from the stadium fuming with rage. The wife went to meet him and asked how the match went. She was happily shocked to see the husband engaging her in a conversation.

Husband: don’t mind that my stupid team. How could they allow the visitors to come to Lagos and force them to  a goalless draw? Believe me I am disgusted. No strikers in that team.

Wife: pity. What was the result at half time?

The husband took a long look at her and barged out of the house in annoyance.

Wife: Did I say anything wrong.

See you next week


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