By PROF. EMMANUEL OJEME
The Nigerian Football Federation, NFF is a public organisation. It is a Nigerian organisation running football on behalf of Nigeria and her people. It is thus an organisation in which all Nigerians have a stake. It is also an organisation operating professionally in adherence to the practical and theoretical principles of its activities. In this regards, therefore, the NFF, a sport governing body must have in its fold, persons with both cognate practical and theoretical knowledge of the sport.
Since its emergence, this relatively new football body has been making efforts to reposition itself for the task of ensuring that football in Nigeria is more productive of the results that Nigeria deserves in the game. The NFF has done well for retired footballers by creating more rooms in its glass house to accommodate their interests.
This is more manifest in the Technical Committee where there is an assemblage of retired footballers. The composition of the technical committee of any sport inevitably should include one or two former participants in the sport, but that is not all there is about the concept of a technical committee. This writer is worried that saturating the NFF technical committee with former players is more of a placating move than a strategic arrangement.
What is a Technical Committee? Technical committees are put in place in all critical areas of national development. You will find it operating in agriculture, health, education, science and technology e.t.c. In all of these cases, such technical committees are conceived of as a gathering of experts with the requisite competences and in-depth knowledge of the task and capacity to deploy same in finding solutions to problems that may be obstructing productivity.
A technical committee in agriculture, for example, would not just be a gathering of farmers (active and retired), hawkers and consumers of agricultural products. It would definitely be headed and populated by core agric experts of all varieties and their corollaries. So it would be in the other areas mentioned.
It is nauseating that in the field of sport as the NFF characterisation has demonstrated, there is a different interpretation of the concept of a Technical Committee. The NFF is an all comers organisation, without any minimum cognate qualification. That is how FIFA has unfortunately empowered it. Sports, however, including football is knowledge driven.
This knowledge, not just knowledge of the rules of the game, of FIFA statutes but also deeply, of science of sports and of the human being in action. It includes knowledge about the players’ anthropometry, his genetics and physiology, of its psychology and his humanity. Sport including football is governed by all these sources and their acquisitions and applications are enabled only by deliberate study and certification by accredited institutions. Not to recognise that a pragmatically oriented and certified sports scientists and psychologists should be appointed into the technical committee of NFF is indeed, very worrisome.
Nigeria has several sports scientists in all areas of sports. Why do we not use them? I thought that if there is a legal committee in the NFF, that is where legal knowledge would be most useful. By citing a Barrister, with all due respect, and with a great sense of responsibility, as the Chairman of a football Technical Committee, to the best of my knowledge, is incongruous.
Furthermore, to saturate the committee with former players, is also not the only connotation of a technical committee. In truth, former players know a lot about how they played, the goals they scored, the things learnt from their coaches and experiences and hence can be useful to the committee. But drawing from these sources would need to be complimented by input from other technical experts who also have experiential background plus deep epistemology of the science, social science and the humanities of the game.
This NFF Technical Committee seems to be short on this count.
Where was this technical committee when the Super Falcons were hauled to the cold winter of Germany, few weeks after the AWC, where they emerged victorious? The women were still savouring their victory in the tropical heat of Nigeria and suddenly they were whisked away to Germany to engage the German World Champions. They got an 8-0 bashing and some one in the NFF said that was okay.
Second, I hope the NFF recently listened to Osaze Odemwingie’s revelation about how sports psychologists brought him back to scoring ways after a span of depressing periods in his outings.
Sports psychologists brought him back to productivity on the field of play.
Everything I have said in this brief paper is not meant to disparage anyone. My mission is to point out what I consider as inappropriate developments in the NFF that may not be in the best interest of football. The NFF should review the composition of its technical committee and make it more inclusive as argued in this paper. Nigerian football cannot rise above the quality of leadership propelling its affairs.