Over the past week, I have been pondering a lot on what to put up as an article, and a new perspective and outlook for Nigerian football. Then it struck me, rather lazily when I was walking down the corridor of my house.
All the great marvels and wonders man has ever achieved were based on one primary factor, or maybe a couple. But what stands out for me is what I call the ‘wait for nobody attitude’. The problem we have with Nigerian football, as well as the country in its entirety, is we get stuck with what we don’t want and expect someone else to change it.
Let me drop some facts. Some time ago the English Football League was underachieving amongst its European counterparts, it was ragged with hooliganism, violence and poor infrastructure. Public confidence in the League was at an all-time low after a ban was enforced on English teams in Europe, and the Hillsborough disaster that claimed a lot of lives.
It was obvious something needed to change, so the top clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Everton, etc. resigned from the Football League to form the FA Premier League. The League we all adore today ‘regarded’ as the benchmark league. How they achieved that is of no relevance, the important thing is that the clubs acted. They didn’t wait for the FA to make the change they wanted to see, they enforced the change.
The Spanish national team had issues too in the past, they were tagged ‘perennial underachievers’ boasting of only one European Championship in 1964. However, around the time of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the country set up a national agenda to develop their football through player development from bottom-up and this yielded glorious fruits. Evident by the four-year spell from 2008 – 2012 when the Spanish national team won almost everything winnable, with such style and panache.
I cited two examples of how the relevant stakeholders improved the level of football in their country through the ‘wait for nobody attitude’. There are many lessons to be learnt from this for Nigerian Football. All stakeholders need to take action. Many individuals have the passion to run football in Nigeria at different levels, but yet they only complain that the Government and the football administrators are not doing enough.
Nigerian football only needs one person with the dream, passion and means to start a tidal wave of success and prosperity in our football. Even America wasn’t built by the Government; it was built by the enterprise of great men that resulted in a multiplier effect across the whole nation.
Football loving Nigerians must understand this. You can start a local football competition in your neighbourhood for the street kids or weekly football training for kids at your religious centre; maybe even start a local football team. The little things count and greater things come from them.