The Problem with our Football Administrators

Gernart Rorh with Amaju Pinnick
Gernart Rorh with Amaju Pinnick

The current carpeting of the coach of the Nigerian senior football team, Gernart Rorh, over the Super Eagles’ recent poor performances, has further exposed our fundamental failure to dissect issues of national interest in ways that would engender real term progress.

Much has been said about an ‘inept’ football coach, most of which has been spot-on, but, sadly, less has been said about a far more worrying aspect of the rot in Nigerian football especially in recent years.

To lay it bare, turning greater focus on the German coach in this regard is quite akin to highlighting an eczema whereas the bigger challenge of leprosy is left unattended to – in this case, the management and administration of the game itself.

The problem with Nigerian football is the same with nearly every aspect of the Nigerian society. 

We're always in a hurry to get results. We know about process but we prefer to disregard its importance in most of what we do. Click To Tweet

We’re always in a hurry to get results. We know about process but we prefer to disregard its importance in most of what we do. 

But, indeed, life itself is a process.

Sports Development in other climes is a deliberate process that pays detailed attention to the growth and development of the aspiring youth in every area of human endeavour – a lifelong process that seeks to bring the total person out of the youth who is expected to come out of the sports academy fully prepared for the future.

It is not in any way or form accidental.

It is not by any means a speculative undertaking

It is not who-you-know OR who-knows-who affair.

It is not borne out of federal character or quota system

It is not a jamboree

It is methodical

It is life moulding

And it is designed to bring out the best in a certain number of persons with the goal of achieving excellence in them as much as feasible.

But, observing happenings in our football in recent years, you would think that football management is all about reaping from where one didn’t sow.

If the present NFF can be honoured with the word ‘approach’ in its’ style, it would be called an IMPULSIVE approach.

Rather than embark on a long or medium term process of development, which would entail programmes that discover, nurture, develop and unveil youths that would go all the way in achieving glory for the nation in the game, the current NFF is more interested in scouting for and discovering footballers of Nigerian descent most of who are products of development programmes elsewhere especially Europe.

Discover What?

So, the NFF chairman gets a hint that there’s a player of Nigerian descent somewhere in Europe. He takes the next available flight and, before you say Jack Robinson, he’s discussing with the boy’s parents, guardian etc. He’s persuading them to allow the boy to come dorn the green-white-green of the Super Eagles.

There is an agreement and the boy is unveiled as the new Super Eagle in whom we are all supposed to be pleased.

For God’s sake, where is the place of a development programme in this regard? 

One that is clearly stated in terms of vision and mission. 

One that is geared towards scouting for and discovering budding talents who would be raised through a programme that is painstaking and at the same time result oriented – one which consequences would positively impact the academy product, clubs on the local scene and the country in the longer run.

Where’s the equivalent of yesterday’s GREATER TOMORROW teams that produced those footballers that we reminisce about all the time?

Where is today’s Youth Sports Federation of Nigeria?

What are we doing with the age-grade competitions, which went a long way to discover and nurture many footballers for the country but which are no longer given due attention?

Where is a virile football league, which would provide a veritable platform for growth?

Indeed, where is the crop of dedicated, devoted, competent and objective football administrators needed for our football to achieve the required progress?

Much appreciation to the initiatives of those who have continued to persevere with their soccer academies around the country in spite of little or no encouragement.

Perhaps our sports minister would have to give more attention to them, along with the germane issues above rather than joining others to focus on the eczema that is Gernart Rohr.

The truth about our results on the football field today is that Rome cannot be built in a couple of years – talk less of a day.

Let’s get it clear: the legion of foreign-grown footballers from across Europe who are invited to play for Nigeria are fully entitled to the chance[s] to wear the nation’s colours. They are much appreciated for accepting the national call and we are proud to have them represent motherland.

It would be more gratifying to get back to the drawing board [if the present NFF has one] and map out plans for a purpose-driven football developmental programme. Click To Tweet

But the point here is, a good number of them would not accept to play for Nigeria if their chances of playing for their country of birth is assured. In other words, what we have are mostly players who accepted or sought representation for Nigeria as an option that they couldn’t ignore – an option that would also help their own career.

And it’s even sadder that they are products of some other people’s development programmes; not ours.

In essence, the present NFF is ever willing to welcome ‘ready-made’ from elsewhere and ignore the development of the game at home.

And did I mention ‘ready-made’ players? Well, the results of our recent games do not lend credence to the much touted prowess of most of these players. We are simply glorifying in some group of second rated players and our football is suffering as a result.

In the end, it would be more gratifying to get back to the drawing board [if the present NFF has one] and map out plans for a purpose-driven football developmental programme; one that would engender success on all fronts; for the individual footballers, the clubs and the nation – in the medium and long terms.

Pray, how sweet would it be to return to using football as a veritable tool for taking youths away from negative undertakings and making meaningful lives out of most of them?

Indeed, in this tough times, the country will appreciate such.

Enough of short term fixes, NFF and other sports administrators, please!

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