By Onochie Anibeze
We usually start well. We usually proffer workable solutions but like an intractable terminal disease, everything we say to promote growth of our football fades away just as the euphoria of starting afresh dims.
I share 100% in your worries that for Keshi to give meaning to his appointment as our National Team Coach, he must go back to our League. We told Siasia the same thing. The rest is history.
My argument over the years has been the presence of weak infrastructure set up (our domestic league) which promotes a precarious and unreliable national team (Eagles et al). We need aggressive reform in our sports sub – sector, especially football.
At the risk of repeating everything you had said last week on this column, is it not possible for us to clean – up our Premier League the same way those in the Banking sector did away with mushroom wonder banks that only existed to cause their customers pain? Is there no way we can commence a regime of periodic accreditation and re –
accreditation of clubs to be sure they operate within acceptable standard
limits? I mean something akin to what National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) and such other regulatory agencies do to ensure compliance to set rules of operation?
Why are we afraid to always start afresh. Clubs cannot even maintain and or refurbish their playing pitches for fear that such exercise would compel them to play outside their ‘home’. Here, one can successfully predict home results. So, every team prefers to play at home to win. Which domestic league built on that level of insincerity can hold the prospect of propelling overall growth of their football?
Is there no way we can bring good organizational abilities to bear on our league? The same Nigerian Clubs who present shabby and poorly planned programmes during local matches, ironically subscribe to superb organizational structure when CAF comes here with any of their competitions. Is it our law or the executors of the law that have ensured
that everything we do in terms of organization is fundamentally below standard?
Let us have the courage to begin again. Let us focus attention on our league. Our domestic league is not attractive, it is not properly packaged; it is everything but professional. Our domestic league must prepare the ground for a viable National Team. No country’s National Team can ever look better than their domestic league. Let us take the pains of cleaning the Augean Stable. We would be better for it.
Stephen Keshi has inherited an obviously less enterprising Eagles. He has a business to move away from the norm of yesterday. He only needs to take far reaching decisions to panel beat the team to shape. Beyond his technical expertise, he must exhibit excellent skills in the management of men and materials.
Nigerians are pathologically impatient and a group of ‘immediate results proponents’. He may need to ignore us to show he could make the difference.
He has denied the list of players that featured in the Benin old method and the Kaduna fair luck. In future, he needs the combined factors of assertiveness and resoluteness to win our confidence. He must be an apostle of knowledge and not passion.
At Benin, we struggled so much to give the impression of super stars. We managed a work rate that was suspect and had a league of hardly innovative old players. This is not the character of an all conquering team. Botswana had all but one domestic player. Coherence, team spirit and commitment reverberated in their squad. They did not have big names. They had robust character. The Kaduna match was no better, the two goals not withstanding.
Let us sincerely start afresh. Let us encourage competition. Let us reinvigorate our league so that playing for the national teams would go beyond European Club attachment.
Ben Ubechukwu, from Aba
I read with great interest your write in Friday’s edition of the Vanguard. You had taken great pains to identify the issues with our football league. The poor economic climate is a big factor. However, if well managed, sports can be used to kick start economic transformation. We need good sports administrators so that our sports / football can export budding talents.
If for instance the new NPL Board is serious, then it should work with sponsors to set up Sports Science Facilities to serve the clubs. Our sports till now run on raw talents.We need sport science facilities to help refine them and make them very marketable. The players should train and be conditioned at the facilities to prepare them for the season. They can also use the facility during the breaks. Our national teams will also use the facilities. Outsiders could also use the facilities for a fee.
With that the quality should improve, more fans and international transfers that will bring in more cash for the club and NFF.
Abayomi Alao, FCMB