By Ikeddy Isiguzo
THE biggest challenge our sports face is that the sports authorities do not know the enormity of the problems before them. Anyone one of them you ask would proffer that once he gets enough money (whoever gets enough money?) to run sports, all the problems would be over. In summary, poor funding is central to the challenges in sports.

No solution can be further from the truth. The authorities are absolutely wrong. Their inability to diagnose the problem has left Nigeria applying the wrong medicaments to an unknown ailment.

Nigerian sports declining. We are actually at the initial stages of the decay that would see Nigeria disappear from the continental and global importance in sports.

The resulting disillusionment that more money for sports, without any meaningful results would produce, would finally get us into a bind. The phase of more money for sports (if there are no corresponding results) would ultimately close the chapter, not completely.
My study of this situation is that MOTIVATION is the challenge. We understand  and misunderstand it  differently. No issue in sports today exhibits the gap between the authorities and our sports people than motivation.

The authorities think it is about money. For today competitors, it is something more than money. They may not find a name for it. I still guess it is up to the authorities to figure it out. Psychologists would write pages of motivational theories, but the most profound remains Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”. It applies to us.

Maslow, an American who studied law before psychology, died in 1970. He listed the hierarchies as  physiological, safety, belong, esteem, self-actualisation.  All these apply have universal application to human beings and have been used extensively in marketing goods, services, as well as ideas. The greater use has been in motivating people.

Controversies have arisen over the years over whether these needs have any hierarchies at all. However, if we return to Nigerian sports, we have stuck to the physiological needs of our players.

For more than 20 years, our sports prospered on the wings of the poor economic policies that wiped away millions of great business ideas and foreign currencies king over an under producing domestic economy. In a depressing setting, where hunger pangs remind people about the need to survive, the first needs are food, shelter, clothing, maybe security. People are motivated by anything that could help them out of these needs.

Sports were handy. They placed food on the table and did a lot more. They lifted people practically out of poverty. When people escape this level of needs, they have to be motivated in other ways.

How else have we motivated our players? Are there other ways to unlock the potentials of our players? Their potentials are locked in a  psychological battle, and battles are won in the mind.

We are stuck with motivating our players at the first level of  needs, while many of them left there more than 10 years ago. Once our players have escaped the basic needs, what can we give them? Why are we stuck on the basic needs while they have left it?
NEXT WEEK?: Even $1b Can’t Us Anywhere!

Female Boxing Comes
AT the 2012 Olympics in London, female boxers would win medals. Serious countries are preparing, including send their boxers (also the men) to competitions in various parts of the world to pick qualifying points. Nigeria won her first two Olympic medals from boxing (Nojeem Maiyegun, 1964 and Isaac Ikhouria, 1972). We would hopefully get the budget for the 2012 Olympics, before the team boards the flight to London. What a country!

Thank God, AIT Awards
THANKGOD Ike won the AIT Football Awards for the Best Male Player (based in Nigeria). Thank God was a constant refrain in his acceptance speech on Sunday night. Awards like this can motivate players, increasing competition, and return competitiveness to our teams.

On Sunday there was a lot to thank God for rescuing Nigeria from recording some disasters  deaths.
Our Eagles were in their most awful form for years. In winning 1-0 over Mozambique, they performed so poorly that optimism Nigeria’s presence at the 2010 World Cup has more appropriately been down graded to gratitude that Nigeria was not defeated in Abuja.
Tunisia remains on the driver’s seat, two points ahead of us. Our dedicated optimists  who profit from the constant extension of the vain hope that Nigeria would be at the 2010 World Cup  would make their budget for the trip to Kenya: money is not a problem.

When it is finally over, they would remind us that if money had been made available before last March when Eagles encountered Mozambique in the first leg, we would have qualified for the World Cup. It is also not too late to remind Nigerians that the African Cup of Nations is a very important competition and that Nigeria is committed to doing better than it did in Ghana where it did not pass the quarter-finals.

Still on money, I hope nobody thinks we have forgotten the $236,000 stolen from an office drawer at the Nigeria Football Association. We cannot forget that, even in this era of paying people bonuses (and paying themselves) for absolutely POOR performances.
Please email comments, condemnations, or commendations to iked


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