By Ben Efe
Former international Emma Okocha has told Nigeria Football Federation officials jostling for positions on the board of the federation to make football a viable venture with the establishment of a thriving national league and grassroots competitions a priority.
Okocha said in Lagos that the talent base of Nigeria football has diminished, because of the absence of a quality domestic league and age group competitions as was witnessed in the 70’s and 80’s.
He added that this was why the Super Eagles cannot boast of quality talents after the exit of players like Stephen Keshi, Samson Siasia, Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George and his younger sibling Austin Jay Jay Okocha who is aiming to join the board of the NFF and make a difference.
Okocha as a home-based player with Rangers of Enugu played briefly for the Super Eagles during the time of coach Clemens Westerhof. He said that this was possible because there was quality competition at the local league and other age group competition provided talents for the clubs each year.
â€œHonestly I donâ€™t know what has happened to our football development programme. If our league is well structured there is no way we canâ€™t have a good national team.
â€œThe national team is just an end product of the league. If we donâ€™t have a good league system there is no way we can have good players for the national team.
â€œBecause there is no rewarding league in Nigeria, we have over 90,000 Nigerian players out there playing in Thailand, India, Equatorial Guinea and other lowly places.â€œWe must have to revive our league. This should be a priority for the new dispensation of the NFF,â€ Okocha concluded.