Continued from Part 11
he Super Eagles of Nigeria, have come a long way, since the writer started following this great team in 1976. The team has over the years evolved to become more than just another national team, it has become the Nigerian peoples' movement! A team that not only represents all Nigerians, but a team that unites Nigerians.
There is a popular joke, that when the Super Eagles are playing, the Nigerian nation, is at a standstill for the duration of the match!
Nigerian governments, both at the state and national levels, have not only come to identify with the fortunes of this team, but have at various times supported this great team, in every possible way. The author, remembers, in 1980, during the African Nations' cup competition, hosted by Nigeria; the government of President Shagari, not only gave, moral and financial support to the team, during the course of preparations for the tournament, but also during the tournament; and eventually, rewarded the team handsomely, after the team obtained victory at the end of the tournament.
At the end of the 1990 Nations' cup tournament, in which the Super Eagles came second, the then Chief of General staff of Nigeria: the late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, renamed the Nigerian senior men's soccer team: the "Super Eagles ," in appreciation of their exploits in African soccer. Needless saying, the team, was materially well rewarded for their exploits, at the 1990 Nations' cup tournament.
When the Super Eagles, qualified for the 1994 World cup finals for the first time, the Federal government promised financial assistance to the team and consequently, fulfilled this promise; and when the team, returned from the World cup tournament, they were feted and rewarded by the Federal government, for a job well done!
When the team, performed, relatively, below expectations, at the World cup tournament in France, in 1998, the NFF, instituted a panel that investigated the reasons for the less- than- expected- performance.
When the Super Eagles' 2010 World cup qualification campaign ran into troubled waters, in 2009, the then Nigerian President: Umaru Yar'Adua, set up a "task force ," charged with ensuring Nigeria's qualification for the 2010 World cup competition, in South-Africa. This objective was eventually attained!
The great people of Nigeria, have not been left out in the unalloyed support for the Super Eagles. They have shown their interest, concern and support for this great team in many ways: by being present at their training sessions, more especially during preparations for crucial matches, as the author, chronicled in the book; by trooping out en masse to watch the Super Eagles' matches, at home; by travelling to support the Super Eagles during their numerous international engagements, outside Nigeria; by coming out on the streets to rejoice, after a famous Super Eagles' victory, as already chronicled in the book; by being sometimes, rightly or wrongly, angry and upset, at the team's performance and of course by prayerfully being closer to the team! Needless saying, Nigerians are soccer -loving people; or rather soccer-crazy!
In conclusion, notwithstanding the exploits of this great team, as already highlighted in the book; and also the genuine concern and support shown the team by both Nigerians and the government alike, a lot still needs to be done to improve the "soccer climate," needed to discover and nurture budding Super Eagles' players to stardom and bring even more success and consequently joy to Nigerians. For example, the infrastructure needed for soccer development is still not adequate. Notwithstanding the efforts of government, more work still needs to be done, in this regard. The NFF, should articulate a permanent programme of discovering young talented players on time, and there should be the opportunity for them to be nurtured properly. Also the NFF, in conjunction with the government, should fully exploit the opportunities available to it, to fully commercialize soccer, as is done in more advanced soccer cultures. A situation where the NFF of a soccer nation like Nigeria, depends solely on government for financial support is unacceptable! The soccer industry in Nigeria, is a sleeping giant ; which should be woken up as soon as possible, to help propel Nigeria's soccer development and thus help the country take her rightful place, not only in African soccer, but in World soccer. Failure to accomplish this objective, given the enormous potentialities of Nigeria, would be tantamount to a crime against nature!
This we certainly do not wish for: Iseeeeeeeeeeh!!!!!
UP SUPER EAGLES! UP NIGERIA!!!!!!!
(THE ABOVE ARE EXCERPTS FROM MY BOOK TITLED: "SUPER EAGLES OF NIGERIA: PRIDE OF AFRICA", PRESENTLY ON SALE ON www.Amazon.com )
Continued from Part 11