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Published On: Tue, Jul 17th, 2018

NFF has no development roadmap for football in Nigeria -Onigbinde

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By Amaechi Agbo
Former Super Eagles Coach Festus Adegboye Onigbinde has stated that Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has no developmental football in the country.
The 2002 Japan/Korea Super Eagles coach disclosed this in an exclusive interview with our correspondent, Amaechi Agbo, recently.

Why have you not headed any national teams after 2002 world cup?
Should that question be for me? Should I force myself on them?

Having watched Super Eagles crash out at the group stage of the Russia World Cup, what advice do you have for the technical crew of the team ahead of AFCON qualifiers in September?
Let me make one thing clear, I was with CAF and FIFA for 25 years but what benefit is the experience I gained from such service to Nigeria today? I am far away from Nigerian football and I don’t want to be seen as an irresponsible elder, poke nosing into issues that I have not been invited to. We have technical handlers of the national team, let them sit down and replan if they know what to do.

Why are you far away from Nigeria football?
Do I have to force myself on Nigeria football?

Are you saying the NFF under Pinnick never consulted you for technical advice in view of your over two and half decades of experience with CAF and FIFA?
Not at all. When I was being invited to go to Russia, this was the way it was put to me: the person who contacted me asked me ‘Baba, which of the matches in Russia would you like to watch?’ Is that an invitation? Then I answered him that anyone he wants me to watch is okay by me. Then he ended up telling me that the invitation was for my 80th birthday present. Which means that I had no business with the team; I was to go there and enjoy my birthday. And when we got over there, I was trying to put some points across, but nobody was listening. The people in authority were so impatient that somebody had to ask me to stop talking and I stayed away.

You took Vincent Eyeama to the 2002 World Cup as a home-based goalkeeper, this year; Ikechukwu Ezenwa was called up but never used in the World Cup by the coach. What do you think went wrong?
The question we have to ask ourselves is, as of now, what is the quality of our local league? The league is as it is because we are not developing the league in this country. I have been asking for a copy of our developmental programme for football but nobody has given me one. NFF has no development roadmap for football in this country.
Why are we not having crowd in our local matches today? That was one of the reasons. In those days, if you hated Shooting Stars more than anything, you would go to watch Kole Awosu, Mudashud Lawal, Simon Olagbode and others play.
Where are the players of that caliber today? It is because we are not developing football.
And that is why I keep saying that the major problem in our football is more administrative than technical. And they proved that to me in Russia. We had a pack of stakeholders, up to 10 of us and when we were going to be paid our allowances, I was paid less than many others; which goes to confirm that our football administrators have no regards for technicalities.
When I was in CAF technical committee, we decided to grade all African coaches, so we were organizing courses. Ghana has graded more than 3000 coaches, Egypt, more than 4000; Nigeria has just crossed 500. We have just crossed 500 now.
And not only that, every year, I remember when I was in FIFA technical Committee, we recommended and it was approved that each national association should be given $250, 000 every year, specifically for development of football. I understand that the $250, 000 has risen to $3 million every year, specifically for football development.
Now the people who are attending these CAF courses in Nigeria, the advanced course we had last, they were meant to pay N250, 000 each. How many of these coaches as we speak have employment in the country? Where will they get the money from? What are we doing with the development monies that are being giving by CAF and FIFA? I am not an accountant, I am not a lawyer. But maybe if we had utilized that opportunity, we could have trained more coaches.
Whether you like it or not, football is a technical matter and so the technical wing of the administration should receive the utmost part of attention. But that is not the case. Competitions are supposed to be used like examinations in schools to assess the development of what you have taught the pupils.
And if you want to improve the standard of education in any country, you must first of all have good quality teachers. If you must improve the standard of sports, you must have good quality coaches. Are we working on this such that our going to competitions these days is not mere jamborees? We make whatever we can make from it and come back home.

Could you substantiate your statement that coaches are unemployed in Nigeria?
It is because we don’t have a developmental programmme. Every club should have a developmental programme in which case they should have Under 13, 15, 17, and so on. There is no reason we should have less than four coaches in each of our national teams.
People who are now accusing us of contravening FIFA rules, they are not telling the whole truth. There is a clause in FIFA rules which says that controlling body of any football organisation, right from club level, should be democratically elected.
When did Rangers (of Enugu) elect people into their board? When did Ifeanyi Ubah, Kano Pillars elect board members? Which means we don’t have a single football club in the country based on FIFA regulation; not one.
Most of them at best are parastatals. So these are the problems. And that is why a state government that is not able to pay workers salaries, yet, you want them to throw money into football. Funny enough, some of the governors are not even interested in sports. But if the clubs are independent, they will know how to run their affairs. That is what FIFA expects, are we following it? It is when they want to blackmail and threaten us; they will start shouting ‘FIFA will ban Nigeria.’ Are we following the rules and regulations of FIFA?

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