What Nigerian football needs for a better 2017

NFF Chairman, Amaju Pinnick
NFF Chairman, Amaju Pinnick

Last year was not a palatable one for Nigerian football – both for the administrators and for the fans. The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Cup tournament will kick off on Saturday in Gabon, and for the second consecutive edition, the Super Eagles would be missing.

It was also a year that witnessed a lot of gaffes – from the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, to the president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaje Pinnick.

The year ended in embarrassment for both individuals as a victorious Falcons had to protest to the Presidency before their entitlements were paid.

It was also a year in which none of the age-grade teams — the U-16s and the U-20s — qualified for the African tournaments, to choose the teams that would represent the continent in FIFA-organised tournaments.

Lest, we forget, it was also a year in which the NFF and the Ministry of Sports were constantly at loggerheads with a lot of opprobrium spewed forth.

Hermann Hesse Sidharta says, “Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else.

“Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”

In an interview by Sulaiman Pooja on January 11, 2017, Pinnick said, “Nigerians should expect a Federation that has learnt a lot of lessons and these knowledges will propel the NFF to avoid visible mistakes and focus mainly on consolidating on some of our gains while working assiduously to achieving successes on and off the field of play in all our pursuits.”

That was well said by Pinnick but as we have often noted – Nigeria is not bereft of words but of actions so for football to see good success in 2017, there are four things that must be done:

Create actionable goals

There cannot be a destination without a requisite plan made for the journey because if we do not know where we are going, how can we know when we have arrived? A wise man once said, “Give a man a bow and arrow and tell him to, “Shoot” and his first response would be, “At what?”  When there is no target there is no purpose for shooting.” Pinnock said in the interview that, “We [NFF] are going to approach 2017 with realistic, tactical, practical, objective and prayerful tendencies.

Set quarterly goals

But they must understand that for the goals to be achievable – these goals must be in quarterly batches, so that proper analysis can be done and measured. Whatever cannot be measured cannot be improved on. But these goals should not be all about the Super Eagles – there is the Nigeria Professional Football league and the women’s game that have to be planned for and developed.

Be focused

After the goal has been structured, which could read like – ‘qualify the Super Eagles for Russia 2018’, then the board must be able to clarify all that would be needed to help the team to Russia. In consonance with the manager of the team, Gernot Rohr, the NFF must determine the players that would be needed so that the necessary bridges can be built between the board and the players’ clubs. The engagements [matches] and competitions to be attended are already indented on a calendar – none is an emergency.

Ingrain teamwork

The hubris between the NFF and the Ministry of Sports must be buried for the good of the game. There will never be success without unity between these two bodies. The issue remains that of truthful disclosure between the parties – it cannot continue to be a cat and mouse game if the game would be successful in 2017.

Deploy a cogent and quality marketing plan

The understanding of the Nike kitting contract is still a conundrum for most Nigerians. With the level of the Super Eagles and Nigerian football players in general, the NFF should be signing contracts that show the real value of the team. Kitting companies like New Balance, Macron and Kappa are companies that are looking for symbiotic partnerships. If Nike are not paying the intrinsic value of the national teams, then the NFF should not be beholden to the ‘slave’ contract they signed.

Though there will be other issues not mentioned above, but the NFF would achieve a greater level of success than they did in 2016, if they just learn what to do and then act on it.

We wish them the best.

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