By PAUL BASSEY
“In one breadth you people say there is no money and start sacking coaches, in another breadth, you are interviewing and employing coaches. There is more to this than meets the eye…..”
That is the angry observation that greeted me as I left the Technical Committee meeting, Tuesday, in Abuja. We will come back to this.
In the meantime, let me regret and sincerely too, the financial situation that has made us decide not to participate in the next edition of the African Nations Championship. In Marakech, Morocco, CAF President Issa Hayatou declared that two of his greatest achievements as CAF President was the establishment of the Women Nations Cup and the African Nations Championship designed specifically for those players who ply their wares in Africa.
Nigeria Federation President Aminu Maigari is one of those appointed to serve in that CAF Committee charged to make sure that players who are not able to go abroad are afforded an opportunity to showcase their talent in the continent. Twice, Nigeria tried to take part in the biennial championship held in Cote Divoire and Sudan, twice we failed.
With the successful domestic league experiment at the Nations Cup, President Maigari was sure this time around, not only was Nigeria going to qualify, but go ahead to win the competition to be held in South Africa next year. Alas, reality has ruled otherwise.
Again, let me address President Maigari. About a year ago, the Technical and Development Committee met and recommended that the NFF may not have to stick with the ten thousand dollars bonuses being paid the Super Eagles by the grace of the Governor Amaechi led Presidential Task Force going into the World Cup in South Africa. The board of the NFF presided over by President Aminu, overturned that decision arguing that the NFF will endeavour to sustain the status quo in order to guarantee confidence. They meant well!
Unfortunately this also translated to a situation where in every Super Eagles match, bonuses alone gulped not less than 60 million naira. Add to that international return tickets, local tickets and transportation, accommodation camp allowances…given the number of friendly matches the Eagles played last year, the extended camping programmes, Nations cup qualifying matches, positive run at the Nations Cup……am I surprised that the NFF is broke?
Back to the beginning. One of the earliest disagreements between the Chairman National Sports Commission and the NFF had to do with the employment of Tom Sienfeit as the Technical Director of the NFF. Nigerian coaches protested, that the man was too young and lacked the requisite experience and that in their ranks could be found men fit to take up that position.
The Sports Minister agreed and ordered that Sienfeit could only be employed if the NFF could prove to him that there was no Nigerian capable of fitting the bill! The face off lingered.
The only time I had to write about this was to explain the job content of the Technical Director. FIFA said and categorically too that the person, who must boast technical qualifications recognized by the local Association, Continental Federation and FIFA itself, must be able to stimulate “………. the worldwide development of football and its principles, as well as its social, educational and cultural values
• Reducing differences in football standards and infrastructures around the world
• Establishing modern, effi cient, transparent and functional football administration
• Strengthening the technical and administrative capacities of FIFA member associations and the confederations
• Promoting the sustainable long-term development of FIFA member associations, as well as solidarity among them
• Enabling FIFA member associations to comply with the requirements for membership and for taking part in FIFA competitions……”
I insisted that it had nothing to do with coaching of the National teams (as a lot of people insinuated a plot to take over Stephen Keshi’s job) and that the job of the man was purely developmental with emphasis on youth football, women football, coaches and referees development and so on, and wondered how many Nigerian coaches could fit that bill especially at a time Chief Onigbinde was laboring in arrears to get most of them certified with CAF licences. Few, very few.
Another interesting part of the Technical Director appointment was linked to the FIFA Financial Assistance Programme (FAP). This ambitious programme with unprecedented funds for the development and promotion of football worldwide was established as far back as 1999 with the highly successful Goal Project in tow “….. to motivate and empower the associations and Confederations to organize development programmes that meet their needs and strengthen football and its administration in the long term…”
The current regulations of FAP, 3.10, has it that “ FIFA member associations are entitled to receive the FAP money provided they employ a Technical and Development Director…..” Before 2010, it was possible to hide under Article 8 …Temporary Provision …and get FIFA to manage the funds for you, but no more. In brief, as long as we operated in the absence of a Technical Director, we stood to lose the millions of dollars set aside for the development of the game here in Nigeria.
Nigeria is one of the few African countries that does not lay emphasis on youth football development. There are no leagues for age group football, professional clubs do not have youth teams, so called academies are criminally operated all over the country. Just recently, The South African Football Association ( SAFA) took delivery of over 100 million dollars from its World Cup Legacy Trust programme and straight ahead set up the SAFA Development Agency charged with running an U-13 and U-15 league for boys and women and generally guaranteeing access to infrastructure and expert advice.
As you are reading this, the FIFA President Joseph Blatter is touring Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Panama planting developmental legacies.
Shuaib Amodu, Kasimawo Laloko and James Peters are just three of the best. Coaches whose experiences over time cannot be faulted, who, thanks to FIFA will not lack funds to lay a foundation, a uniform foundation for the development of Nigeria’s football that is so far built on a faulty foundation called competition…..no wonder we could not repeat the Nations Cup feat, so soon after!
Seen Peter Fregene lately?
Last week, I got this surprise call.
“Apo” Peter Fregene is in Sapele. Paralysed.
He is in need. He needs help and fast too.
Next week I will bring you in detail, the travails of this past hero who today has to beg to eat and pay rent.
If you cannot wait for next week, then call him on 07031868985….he will be glad you did!
See you next week.