Moving down the pecking order to 10th in Africa and backtracking three times, from 57th to the 60th position in the world's football scene clearly showed the dismal performance of Nigeria recently. This climaxed last year, evidenced by our inability to qualify, or even participate in any continental or world's tournament. It remains a reflection of our lacklustre attitude towards a possible positive change.
Our lack of ideas and action-backed gusto to reasonably improve our game and at the long run restoring the joy of supporters, whose recurrent heartbreaks left sick and tired of our indigenous football has become our undoing.
Many groups and individuals have been blamed for the woes that befell our football. This has succeeded in producing bold front-page headlines for our newspaper houses and good story lines for TV and radio stations. The frustration of men and women is being voiced out almost on a daily basis, in an attempt to either criticize the people involved or give pieces of advice that may not be heeded. Analysis of where we got it wrong, which is the order of the day, has succeeded in making popular, the issue without appropriate measures to resurrect our country's dying football.
The conflict between the legality of Nigerian Football Federation(NFF) and Nigerian Football Association(NFA), as the recognised nomenclature for our football governing body has been a source of distraction and a serious matter to contend with. Our football house and other stakeholders in the country ensured that it was a big distraction for the growth of soccer in the country. 'Those who live in glass house don't throw stones' is a popular dictum, but our glass house has been shattered with 'stones' of selfish interests of the occupants and their inability to come up with tangible ways of bringing lasting solution in our currently comatose football condition.
It is quite unfortunate that pot-bellied men, bereft of good ideas on the way forward, in the round leather game, are still occupying the top positions in our football body, doing the same thing they did years ago without any result.
We are specialists in appointing and sacking coaches without giving them enough time to acclimatize and succeed. Though a dismal performance from coaches should be frowned at, they should be patiently trusted to deliver the dividends of our investments.
We now have so-called 'professional' footballers whose passion for the most popular game is questionable. Many of them find it difficult to make imposing influence in the field of play. This has made many of them to be bench-warmers in their clubs. Our 'stars' find it difficult to make headway where their counterparts succeeded without stress. They are comfortable with their wages, which appear huge when compared to what they can afford in our country, and suddenly forget that there is always room for improvement.
Many of them are overweight, making them incapable of performing both locally and in the international scene. We just hope that the idea of involving local based players will yield reasonable results.
The government only succeeds in making big demands and setting goals for our footballers and coaches without commensurate backing. Making and enforcing laws that will strengthen our sports department is near impossible. We have consciously appointed and watched non-functioning, ignorant men to head our sports ministry. What stops us from going for experienced people? Why can't we develop workable modalities that will give us a good structure for operation in our local league? We do well in detecting for our coaches, players we want to play in a particular match, from the comfort of our rooms, leaving the weight of the consequences for the 'innocent' managers to bear.
Promises that have not been kept are on the increase. When players do well, promises are made with late fulfillment if they are at all kept. This discourages players and coaches. Even the payment of wages and allowances are delayed, making players to embark on strikes sometimes.
Fans and supporters have their own portion of the blame. Many of them are so vocal that they use obnoxious words to express their frustrations. They can afford to blame players who make mistakes in the field of play, without giving such persons the benefit of doubt. Recognizing the ever-present room for improvement will be helpful. Yakubu's case is a classical example, but he has proved many wrong. Fans should control their emotions, trusting our players, though they are not to accept everything.
Let's come together to solve the problems that have plagued our games. We can restore our pride among other footballing nations.
This is not a time to apportion blames. If we thoroughly x-ray the challenges in our sports industry, no one may be exonerated.
Let's bury our hatchets and put hands on deck to make things work again. We must forgive ourselves and work together.
Together, we can restore our love for our local sports.