By Ikddy Isiguzo
THE times are worse than many are ready to admit. For sports, the times are anything but good. As we grabble with the issues of what to do with sports, we may have to look to extraordinary corners for salvation.
One of the places I have in mind is the camps of the militants, who have disarmed, but have a doubtful future, pegged on successful acquisition of skills. The proposed skills to be impact do not appeal to the militants in the first place. How can we make the militants useful quickly?
Sports would be a most effective tool of engaging the militants some of who could have unexplored sports skills. The sports can be encompassingÂ athletics, boxing, football, wrestling, and even shooting. Swimming may seem a long shot, but it still holds an attraction for the children who grow up in the waters, rivers, seas, lakes.
The amnesty programme could have been planned without a sports component, but I see no reason for anyone to think that sports cannot be used to engage militants. All the elements of their characters, except violence, can be accommodated in sports.
Chances are that some of them have become great runners, as they raced through the creeks trying to outsmart their adversaries. Others could have swimming abilities that can win medals at some competitions. Who says a militant cannot turn his aggression in to solid punches which hurled from a boxing glove can make him fame and fortune?
Have we forgotten that shooting is a competitive Olympic sport? With the arsenal militants deposited, they must surely be at home with shooting. All they require is knowledge of the rules, calmer nerves, steady hands and the concentration to hit the target. Wrestling for years has been a sport associated with the Ijaws who produced our best Olympic wrestlers.
At times like these, extraordinary measures are required to rescue our sports from the doldrums of many years of running them thoughtlessly. We are earning the return on poor investments in all critical areas of development, coupled with decades of inept leadership.
Our sports could be a great beneficiary of the amnesty even if the authorities as usual have left sports out of another important national programme that could have a great difference.
Excuses For Siasia
ANYONE making excuses for Samson Siasia is not doing the image of the young man much good. Siasia is different, he is accepting full responsibility for the final outcome of the Flying Eagles in Egypt. He knows that team’s performances were poor in the first round of games. Nigerians were disappointed.
One thing that is certain is the present board of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, failed to get results with Nigerian or foreign coaches. Coaches, however, remain responsible for their results. On its part, the NFF has to die to excuses too.
If the coaches make the decisions, including inexplicable choice of some players, they have responsibility of getting the results or accept responsibility for failing. The Siasia era, as a coach in the national teams may be in its sunset.
Best Of Best
NEWS of the passing on of Best Ogedengbe, two days before Independence Day celebration, was shocking though one heard earlier that he was in hospital. Best was one of Nigeria’s best, at a time the heroes made their marks and were remembered.
He in the cast of the memorable 1980 Nations Cup, which Nigeria won, after coming close twice with bronze medals in 1976 and 1978.
Other members of the glorious 1980 Nations Cup team who have preceded Best in death were Muda Lawal (1991), Tunde Bamidele (1997), Eyo Martin (2002), Alloy Atuegbu (2008).
Best, Bestila, Besto and other derivations of it, were monikers Nigerians used to adore this man, whose displays in club and national team assignments kept legends like Emmanuel Okala on their toes. The rivalries between him and Okala set high standards that cultivated the next generation of goalkeepers.
In his prime, he popularised sunshades, he made a fashion statement with them. He was hardly seen outside the pitch without one. He seemed to have a couple of them that sat well on his nose line that appeared sculptured for sunshades.
His antics in goal buoyed the confidence of his team mates and distracted the opposition.Â He had promised to pass on some tips to Eagles goalkeepers in their remaining World Cup qualifiers, but death has ruled out the fulfillment of that promise.
When his family, friends and fans gather in Ibadan to bid him farewell between October 15 and 16, the tributes would confirm again the great roles this simple man played in the growth of the Nigerian game.
All of us would be aiding Best’s interests, if we find some ways of assisting the family he has left behind, for they cannot feed on the tributes that would be paid his memory from now on.Please email comments, condemnations, or commendations to firstname.lastname@example.org