Since the Super Eagles won the African Nations Cup in South Africa in January, 2013, I have been wondering what manner of sports policy do we practice in Nigeria. I can’t understand why till today, various levels of Nigerian governments keep on getting involved in the development of sports in this country. When the super eagles won the cup, we saw how our presidency and state governors and wealthy Nigerians kept on spraying task payers money in congratulating the eagles. The Cross Rivers State governor even had to give the eagles some reward in millions, few days to a crucial brazil world 2014 qualifying match with Kenya in calabar. We all saw the result of that gesture. We couldn’t beat Kenya in our on backyard, even when we beat them 3-0 the last time they came around in another qualifying match for the South-African 2010 world cup. Now, our aim of being in brazil next year is seriously in doubt. Governments involvement is really making me mad because we all know that they use that platform to embezzle state funds and leave the players and coaches of state teams in penury.
The european football league season is about coming to and end this weekend. Nigerians follow these clubs with passion and zeal. Some Nigerian football fanatics have even lost their lives supporting their favorite teams and yet, you can hardly see Nigerians who root for their local teams here. I support Enugu Rangers, because of what they represent to the igbo’s, especially after the civil war. I support Heartland of Owerri, because I am from Imo State. I also support Enyimba, Sharks of port-harcourt, dolphins, 3sc, kwara united and kano pillars. I follow the nigerian league also, at least I keep up to date regularly. Yet our football league isn’t well organized like that of the EPL, Spanish la liga, french ligue 1, German bundesliga, etc. Lately, the Nigerian Football Federation constituted the League Management Board, that manages the nigerian professional football league and they so-called club owners (or is it state owned clubs managers) were at logger heads with them over some crazy disagreements. Some clubs have shirt sponsorship and globacom also sponsors the league with a sum of N1billion or more. That’s a sign in a good direction but my grouse is that the federal government and state governments should hands of our football and other sports, especially in the organization of sports competitions. Have you noticed that whenever there is a national competition, these sports federation’s, especially the NFF, seek state governments to sponsor the event.
That’s were we come into the aspect of sponsorship and organization of sports in Nigeria. Let’s take Arsenal fc of london my favorite team in england. Arsenal is well organized. They have a well structured system of organization. We think that it’s the players and coaching staff that run these clubs right. Well, that is not so. If you check out arsenal’s website, you’ll will see that they have the coaching and players department which is the organization department, marketing and media/communications department, finance department, security/steward department and so on. It is built like a business organization and they also employ people to work in those departments. They have a youth team for boys and girls, they also have a female team known as arsenal ladies and they are the best in female club football in england and europe. How many nigerian male clubs have a youth system and a female team today? Absolutely non. Sharks and Dolphins are two Rivers State owned male clubs. But the state also owns a female football team called the Rivers Angels. Most of these male football clubs have a youth team called feeder teams. We really need Nigerian football to be re-organized. Check out Barcelona for example, it has a football academy, and I’m sure it’s just not football they teach their, because Barcelona has a basketball team also, that has same badge and colours like the barca football team. Real Madrid has too, and that’s why they call them sports clubs and not football clubs. Juventus has a youth team also.
I keep on wondering why state governments should give state clubs money to run them, when we know that these club chairmen stash these monies in fixed deposits and use the interests to pay they players. That is why, most of these clubs owe their players. These clubs can generate huge income not just from the league sponsors but also club sponsors. They just need to create platforms so that sponsors can display their brands and products/services. Apart from stadium tickets, they can generate income from sponsorship of jerseys, stadium and football pitches, the scoreboard, their club newspaper, website, radio and television, training pitches and facilities, club bus and private jets. When these clubs are accountable to their investors and sponsors, then you will see that sponsors will fall over each other to sponsor them. Go to America and Europe and watch their basketball league. America has american football, baseball and ice hockey. The American sports industry is a multi-billion dollar industry each year.
The federal and state governments do not have any busy in the development of sports, neither do our sports federation’s. The sports federation’s only organize competitions were athletes showcase and test their skills. It is the duty of sports clubs, whether it be athletics, tennis or football, to discover and groom talents in their various fields of endeavor. We need the Nigerian Government to privatize our sports and please stop using Nigerian sports to steal government money.
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