A Victory, Rewards and other Salient Matters

On the 10th February, 2013, the national men’s football team of Nigeria; the Super Eagles emerged victorious at the 29th edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), for the third time. This hard-won victory came after nineteen years since the country last assumed the pole position at the biggest sporting event in Africa, after a series of misses and exits. Expectedly the feat elicited great joy from a grateful nation, happy to once again savor the status and bragging rights associated with such triumphs .As a consequence, rewards, both financial and otherwise have come the way of team members and officials in no small measure, from the public and private sectors. At the last count, hundreds of millions of naira, property as well as national awards have been given to our recent heroes. On the surface, it will seem appropriate and under the present circumstances it is, to reward individuals who help in laundering the image of Nigeria in a positive fashion. However, it is pertinent to note that while the government and sports administrators will beat their chest and bask in the light of this achievement, all is not well with sports administration and indeed with most other sectors of our national life. But for now, we will focus on sports.
We will start with the AFCON 2013 triumph. Prior to the commencement of the tournament, the Super Eagles departed unsung and after posting a shaky start in the competition proper, it was rumored that dissatisfied officials of the Nigerian Football Federation(NFF) had begun the search for a possible replacement for the chief coach of the side, Stephen Keshi. So much so that after the convincing victory over the Elephants of Ivory Coast at the quarter final stage of the competition ,with momentum and belief swinging in favour of the Super Eagles, Coach Stephen Keshi publicly berated the NFF for their lack of support and encouragement at the finals, at a post match interview. At present, the Nigerian Premier Football league, that should naturally be a reservoir of new talents for the national teams, is yet to commence for the 2012/2013 season, after a series of botched take-off dates. This is in addition to the fact that local club sides do not have necessary infrastructure, owe salaries and allowances and lack professional structures comparable to standards available outside our shores.
At the last London 2012 Olympic Games, Nigeria posted her worst outing at the event by failing to win any medals. This did not come as a surprise, as the athletes were mobilized for training and camping with just a few months to the commencement of the Games. As usual, the reasons adduced for our abysmal performance at the Games boiled down to a late release of funds from the government. Though our physically challenged athletes brought honour to the nation with their spectacular showing, winning medals at the Para Olympic event preceding the London games, their feat was attributable to individual talent and the determination to succeed; and not due to a cohesive and comprehensive series of preparations instituted for them. As you read this article, it is instructive to note that there no plans on ground to train, condition and expose our athletes to the technical and tactical demands of their various sports for future games. Whereas China and the USA; countries that amassed the largest haul of medals at The London 2012 games, opened their Olympic training camps for their athletes for the next edition, one month after the curtains fell at London. For a competition four years away, in Rio De jenario 2016!
For one thing, the government must stop playing the old tune of scarcity of funds, as a reason for the shambolic way sports is administered in this country. Since the present mantra are calls for more Public Private Partnership (PPP) collaboration in most sectors of the national economy , it behooves our leaders to realize that business are still entities that will only invest in areas that guarantee a handsome return on investment. Sports inclusive! Therefore, government must first administer sports efficiently, effectively and professionally by providing sporting infrastructure, placing a premium on the welfare of athletes and generally creating a conducive atmosphere for sports and other related matters to not only thrive but flourish. After all, any accolades achieved by our athletes at sports competitions, is first and foremost a victory for Nigeria as a whole. Then, like a scented flower that attracts insects to its precious nectar, what will be witnessed will be a flurry of corporations, multinationals and firms falling over one another, desiring to be a part of a culture and mindset of success in our sports. Indeed, the victory of our dear Super Eagles provides ample opportunity and a clean slate for our leaders and administrators to correct the shortcomings of the past and chart a new course for our sports and indeed all other areas of national life.

One thought on “A Victory, Rewards and other Salient Matters” by Writeman (@writeman)

  1. Okay. True. But this wasn’t what I was actually expecting to read. I wanted to read about the accolades and gifts being too inflated. Our women weren’t treated half this way when they won the women championship last 2 yrs. Abeg.

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