By Ikeddy Isiguzo
LAST week I began my thesis on the dangers that attempting to motivate our athletes with money portend for our expectations of great performances. I concluded that money cannot do the magic for two reasons  the players have more money than we are offering them, and worse still, what motivated many of them into ports was the race to escape poverty.

Now that they are earning enough to move from Poverty Boulevard to Prosperity Plain, it would take something extra to get them interested in sports as a business.

How to start relating to this is to first think about you as a multi-million, possibly billionaire, playing football. What would we use to motivate you? Is it the national honours that fail most tests for credibility? Can we get your attention with even N5 million winning bonus?

There must be something that we can use in motivating you. It is that something that we must begin a great search for now, instead of expending our energies in blaming our athletes and footballers. They have a constraint that we know nothing about and which they do not understand too.

Money as motivation is the only thing we know. The love of money, the spin offs from paying sports people from budgets that sometimes run into billions of Naira, have their places in the respect we pay money as a motivator. The sad news is that money can no longer solve this problem. We now have sports people who are looking for other things in life, things money cannot buy, things that the American psychologist Abraham Maslow called self esteem, self actualisation, and such needs that have nothing to do with daily basic physiological needs.

How much would you give a player who earns $45,000 weekly to keep him playing? The problem is bigger than the amount of money that would get his attention.

If he has escaped the poverty divide, if football has already exceeded all his expectations what next would the game offer him? Why would he want to do better? Would going to the World Cup help him escape from another poverty? Our sports authorities have to tackle this issue head on, it is by far too serious to be sidetracked in the expectation that the future is bright.

Money has is limitations, especially where the limbs we are trying to move have become too tired to react to motivation.

A man who never knew where his next meal would come from, but now can eat in the best restaurants in the world, who from his poverty now has garages filled with exotic cars, has moved from being a perpetually rent-owing tenant to a landlord in choice parts of Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna, and  Port Harcourt is a different nut from our everyday athlete.

Our athletes have successful businesses in addition, employing people. Their bank accounts are not empty, it is a struggle for them to continue being competitive athletes.

While we are looking up to them to turn in great results, we can, with a deeper look, discover that they have long lost the appetite for success, which we see in terms of honours won, but which for them is essentially the long flight out of poverty.

Not even $1 billion awarded to each of our football can change their attitude to the race for 2010. If anything, they would have to make time to enjoy their good fortune. Would you blame them?

Dr. Ken Anujekwu, President of NUGA, and an ardent sports scientist drew my attention to the fact that the recipe for getting better results out of our athletes lies in application of sports science. I told him he was jumping the gun  we are dealing with people who defy science in some ways. I would like to look at sports science at some point, possibly after dealing with motivation.
NEXT WEEK: Where Is The Future?

Do You Know?
THAT Nigeria as African champion in beach football would present a team at the World Cup next month and the team is not training for the competition?

THAT there is still no word about the $236,000 that has been missing from the offices of the Nigeria Football Association since last March?
THAT the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in India, holding October 3-14, are less than one year away?

By The Way
THE FIFA U-17 World Cup starts in Nigeria tomorrow. If you know nothing about this competition nobody should blame you. In Abuja, where the final would be staged, you would not feel differently from any remote part of Nigeria that is not connected to the competition.

If you are in any of the cities hosting the competition, step out to see history in the making, for a fee. Some of those who would make waves in the 2018 World Cup would be on display.

In case you did not know, Nigeria is presenting a team. Do not take it for granted that a host must present a team  Qatar hosted the 1995 FIFA U-20 World Cup and did not compete.
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