BY JACOB AJOM
Former Nigeria international, Okey Isima has expressed anger over the continuous decline of sports in Nigeria, saying administrators should be held responsible for the poor state of affairs.
Isima called on President Goodluck Jonathan to swing into action with his planned overhaul of the sports sector, adding, “We have to sit down and talk. Even if it takes us another two years to re-organise the sports sector it wouldn’t matter because things will continue to go wrong for as long as the present administrators remain in place.”
Speaking on the state of Nigerian sports since independence, Isima who was part of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations Green Eagles-winning team recalled that “then, the game was played by the people as everybody was involved. Market women would close their shops because they wanted to watch teams like Rangers or the Green Eagles play. It is no longer so these days.”
He blamed the situation on the introduction of politics into sports, a situation he claimed had resulted in the appointment of people without the relevant background to run sports.
“The time has come when we, the ex-internationals should come out and rescue our sports from total decline,” an angry Isima said, insisting, “we cannot continue to sit back and watch misfits and other charlatans ruin our sports.”
Speaking specifically on football, Isima stated that “in our days, the game belonged to the people. Now, football is run from government house because that is where the money is. They have to give the game back to the people. People like us who played from primary school to professional ranks and also learned the administrative aspect of the game should be brought in to practice what we profess.”
He explained why the present crop of administrators cannot succeed. “No matter their enthusiasm or passion for sports, they can’t succeed because they lack the vision. It is not their call.”