FEATURE ARTICLE

Cyril C. NwokejiFriday, December 1, 2017
[email protected]
Belgium

TIME TO TAKE THE SOCCER WORLD BY STORM! (3)

THE GOOD PEOPLE OF NIGERIA

igerians have never failed to impress yours sincerely in the way and manner they have shown their love, support and solidarity with this great team: the "Marvelous" Super Eagles of Nigeria. When yours sincerely started observing the Super Eagles, in 1976, the support of the team by Nigerians was quite considerable. Over the years that support has grown in leaps and bounds, and today, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, have become the single most important rallying point for all Nigerians! The team has actually metamorphosed to become the "Nigerian peoples' movement"; and the undeniable symbol of a united, great and prosperous nation, regardless of our present travails!

The aim of this part of my article is to highlight the strong aspects of the support shown this team by Nigerians, while of course highlighting the weaker aspects that need to be fine-tuned, if we are to make the Super Eagles a soccer giant in the world of soccer.

Nigerians as earlier stated, dearly love their Super Eagles. They never fail to identify with the team. Nigerians spend their hard earned cash to travel to foreign countries to support the Super Eagles, while on away matches. They take out their time to attend the training sessions of the Super Eagles, before a vital match. Yours sincerely attended some of these training sessions as a young man in Lagos, in the early eighties. Nigerians come out en masse on match days to watch the Super Eagles' matches. The stadium is usually filled up, hours before kick off time; with Nigerians waiting, praying and hoping for Super Eagles' success, even in inclement weather conditions! And not to talk of the millions of Nigerians who follow the matches live on television. The whole nation, is usually at a standstill as the Super Eagles play!

Nigerians also cheer wildly as the Super Eagles score goals during matches. And at the end of a match won by the Super Eagles, they rejoice wildly in the streets; the more significant the victory, the more they celebrate!!!!! Yours sincerely took part in some of these celebrations in Lagos, and on campus, during my student's time, at university of Ilorin. Even in Europe, Nigerians also celebrate Super Eagles' victory, and indeed all over the world, where Nigerians abound!

Nigerians also express their gratitude to the team in other ways; the Super Eagles' players are easily recognized on the streets by Nigerians and celebrated. Yours sincerely remembers what happened at the Belgian Embassy gates in 1990, while yours sincerely was applying for the Belgian visas. At that time, we all had to line up at the gates, waiting to be called in. While on the line waiting to be attended to, yours sincerely, noticed the presence of a former Super Eagles' goalkeeper, who was also on the queue. Yours sincerely, as one always does, seized the opportunity to start discussions with him. He was so friendly and responded to my questions. While we were talking, the gate man noticed him, and decided to let him in immediately, over and above those of us that were there before him. Nobody protested because all those present recognised him.Yours sincerely was disappointed not because he was let in before me, but because I was denied the opportunity of discussing further with him. Nigerians love the Super Eagles' players, past and present!!!!!!

However, for all the support, love and solidarity shown the Super Eagles by Nigerians, there are weaker aspects to the support of the team by Nigerians:

During matches involving the Super Eagles, by the start of the matches, Nigerians cheer wildly, but as the match wears on and the goals do not come, they tend to gradually become what subdued in their support of the team. It as if they reduce the intensity of their support, while waiting for the Super Eagles to score. And when the team scores, they cheer wildly. In other words, Nigerians' support for the Super Eagles, during matches, is rather "REACTIVE"; this form of support is less effective!

A better form of support is to constantly cheer the team, regardless of result, and by so doing stimulate the boys to score goals. This form of support is : "PRO-ACTIVE", and is better! The late legendary commentator of blessed of memory, Ernest Okonkwo, hammerd this point home to Nigerians, while he was still alive; unfortunately, thus far, to no effect!

Another negative aspect of supporting the team that needs to change is what yours sincerely terms the "LAGOS CROWD EFFECT"! Lagos crowds and by implication Nigerian supporters of the Super Eagles, have this tendency to not only distance themselves from the team, but to abandon the team entirely, when the team is losing and the minutes have started ticking away! They become the emergency supporters of the opposing team and thereby give them oxygen, by making them feel at home, in Nigeria! While at the same time booing their own Super Eagles! Of course to the disadvantage of the Super Eagles. This attitude must change, for the Super Eagles to extract maximal support from their supporters, as is usually the case with the supporters of the opposing teams, who cheer their teams relentlessly all the way! No team wins all the time; Nigerians should learn to accept defeat sometimes. By constantly cheering the team, you can still help the team turn things around!

TO BE CONTINUED!

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