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By Paul Bassey
As you are reading this, I am seated in the expansive and tastely furnished Aida Conference Hall of the Cairo Marriot Hotel. A quick glance around the hall that sits 101 other “African football students” I can see General Dominic Oneya, Dr Bolaji Oj-Oba, Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam and Samson Adamu.

As Instructors, we have been invited by CAF to a five day seminar on Implementation of Club Licensing System.

Four days ago in Abuja, gone to lecture during the Match Commissioners Seminar organized by the Nigeria Football Federation, I had mentioned my Cairo trip while emphasizing the benefits of capacity building and accumulation of intellectual properties.

This came about as I commended the NFF for deciding to ask Resource persons to conduct aptitude tests at the end of their papers. From experience, it was customary for participants to arrive the venue, pay their fees, collect conference bags and disappear.

Others did not even turn up at all as their friends paid for them. And I was told repeatedly in Abuja, “…….these were the ones that got multiple matches”. This year was different. Not only did the Commissioners come in person, they listened to the lectures with rapt attention, conscious of the test that was coming at the end of the delivery.

The result of the test cannot be discussed on this page, but as I informed the committee, more than half of the over 700 commissioners that turned up for the seminar have no business as match commissioners! Specifically, we touched on the CAF Competitions Management System (CMS) a facility that insists you must be computer literate to be a match commissioner.

Back to Cairo where we are sweating under the tutelage of UEFA and FIFA Resource persons with topics such as CAF Interclub Competitions, Overview on Major Issues and FIFA Vision and Support Worldwide, handled by Thomas Grimm FIFA development Consultant.

The emphasis here is at Developing Management skills in African Clubs, Youth Development and planning in Clubs, Financial Perspective, Ownership and legal status of clubs.

The Club Licensing System is aimed at but not limited to Promoting and improving the quality and the level of football aspects in Africa; Ensuring that the clubs have the appropriate infrastructure, knowledge and application in respect of management and organization; Adapting and improving club infrastructure; Improving the economic and financial capacity of clubs through proper corporate governance and control; Allowing the parallel development and comparison amongst clubs by ensuring the necessary compliance in terms of financial, legal, infrastructure and administrative criteria….

What a coincidence.

At the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Friday Afternoon, I met the Dolphins team. Their match was on Saturday and according to coach Eguma, they had missed their flight on the day before due to one reason or the other, so here they were, still in Lagos by 1pm, for a match in Tunisia next day and they were transiting in Dubai!

Have you informed CAF? They said they had etc. Of course I arrived Cairo to discover that no information whatsoever had been received by CAF and that even the Tunisians had complained to CAF that there was no word from their Nigerian opponents as to date and time of arrival, composition of the team etc.

It is no more news that they arrived late for the match after they had been walked over, with three points, three goals advantage the host.

When I consulted for Sunshine Stars in Africa, I remember encountering a similar scenario and I told the players that: yes, you had a case, but you should be careful with the timing of protest, less you do yourself more harm.

Africa is a stage the players need to showcase their talent and most of them have progressed through continental exposure. If you now cut your nose to spite your face, you, and not the Rivers state government will be the greater loser. Tell me, how will they overturn such a big deficit? The players messed up, big time. In search for naira and kobo, they missed dollars and pounds, millions ……

The CAF Club Licensing seminar will by this week end, throw instructors into the system that will go into Africa to spread the gospel of proper football management and administration. Starting this year, clubs in Africa will need to fulfill the minimum required criteria to be able to be accredited for continental competitions and I fear for Nigerian clubs, if the NFF does not react, fast.

Nigerian clubs are so amateurish, so terribly run that you cease to wonder why they do not do well in Africa!

Thanks Gov Akpabio….Thanks NNPC/MPN joint venture

Saturday, March 7 the grand finale of the 14th NNPC/AKS/MPN Schools Athletics Championship was held inside the main bowl of the impressive Akwa Ibom International Stadium in Uyo.

This was quite a challenge given the fact that it was the first time a track and field competition was held in the stadium and by 500 students very green in the sport, introduced to infrastructure of such a high quality.

The stress was to disappear when Governor Akpabio appeared to support the youth and encourage them to greater heights. The delight of the kids was palpable, so thick that you could cut it with a knife. They sang and danced with their popular governor, apostle of Uncommon Transformation and at the end of the day presented him with an award, grateful for the provision of such a world class edifice, smack in their “back yard”

For some of them, it was the first time they had seen him in flesh and the memory is to linger a life time.

The amiable Governor it was who while making his speech appreciated the sponsors MPN, Operator of the NNPC/MPN Joint Venture for a job well done. Sponsoring the competition for fourteen unbroken years, he said was worth emulating.

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