Federation chairmen connive with secretaries to rip off sportsmen —Adebiyi

By Daily Sports on September 28, 2015

Views: 3,394

Brigadier-General Gregory Adebiyi (rtd), former vice-chairman of Nigerian Football Association (NFA), and chairman, technical committee, introduced innovative ideas in football administration during his tenure, just as he played a vital role in the development of sports infrastructure in the Nigerian Army. An advocate of transparency in sports administration, the ex-international brought his experience to bear in this no-holds-barred interview with Daily Sports Managing Editor VICTOR ENYINNAYA. Excerpt.

Daily Sports: Given your experience and exposure in sports, what do you think is wrong with the country’s football?

General Adebiyi: Well, thank you very much. I must say it is a good question.  What is seen today is not only football. The whole system is destroyed. Yes, football is the major sport in the world and the problems are many: major one has been how to dutifully and transparently administer the most populous sport in the world. In an attempt to see what to do, present-day administrators only succeed in nailing the round leather game. They bruise it so badly and left it in disastrous mood - left, right and centre. It has indeed left sour taste in the mouth of the numerous fans and big holes in the vault of the Federal Government, the sole sponsor. That is the ugly face of the game presently in our land.
Our greatest undoing in this part of the world is lack of planning, which has been the bane in the running of our sports, not only football.  We all knew how we prepare for major championships. It has never been anything to write home about. Actually, funds are released late, but the home truth remains that we have failed to plan ahead; like other countries that start their planning for next major international sporting event immediately the curtain for the present competition is drawn. Another aspect that our football has experienced over the years is gambling. We assume so many things and at the end of the day we came out worst for it. Learning nothing and forgetting nothing. The fact that we defeated a certain country, say five years ago, won’t translate we can still perform such feat when next we meet. These pitfalls have made us look ordinary when the chips are down. Yet such fall never force us to stop, think and learn.
The country’s reliance on past glory has led us to woeful outings. The gambling for result has left the country’s sports in ruins. The administrators have not helped matters either. They always think self before the sportsmen and women who are the reason for the existence of a particular sport.  On the other hand, players demand higher allowances, which deep down they know are artificial. It is ridiculous the issue of bonuses has played its negative role in our football. Such ought to have been strengthened before every major championship. Players don’t trust administrators due to breaches of trust, times without number.
The continued absence of workable sports policy no doubt has taken its toll on our football and other sports. The country’s administrators toy with essential things that would grow each of the sports in the land. It reduces the country to nothingness in this computer age. In short, it is shameful.
Greed is another devil that has left the nation’s football dazed; oftentimes administrators thereby feed fat on the allowances of athletes. They also divert funds allocated for sports development into private pockets, thereby leaving sports and athletes to suffer. Athletes are left in abject poverty. Greed by administrators in various sports have brought with it no infrastructure development and sadly increased the decay of existing ones. They are common sights in our sports complexes across the country.  It has left football empty-handed most times. Economically, we have burnt our fingers. No accountability. No availability of trained and groomed coaches. Greed has also resulted in administrators not able to know the duration in planning for championships: either short time or long time. Such adequate planning by administrators would give room for any training cycle and set the tone. For example, preparatory, transitional, competitive and rest period. When these four stages are differentiated, our coaches would be free. Sporting bodies must take note of this by having effective sub-committees to work along with the coaches. However, the problem remains that the country’s administrators don’t believe in this kind of long-term measures, because they want quick results from the coaches. This put the coaches under intensive pressure.

 
What’s your take on Stephen Keshi’s sack and engagement of Sunday Oliseh?
To me, it is not an issue. The beauty of the game is coaches are being hired and fired. It is like that all over the world.  Remember he is not the first coach to be sacked and would not be the last either. The issue should be what positives his sack will bring to Nigerian football. From what is on ground, I have not seen a departure. Is what we have seen the best of replacement? The problem with Nigerian football and her coaching are far from being solved. This can safely be described as trial and error period. It may come with it, flashes of successes that never stood the test of time. This is Nigeria for you. I am not afraid of controversy. One ex-international striving to out-smart the other, all in the bid to get his own fair share of rehabilitation with or without sound coaching qualification. I believe that a system whereby a coach of national side is hired through the backyard remains an aberration. It has been the crux of the matter in football administration in the country. The NFF leadership, if they are serious, must vividly work out how the Eagles handlers would be ready to take instruction and work under the Technical Director, Shauibu Amodu.  Head or tail, we may likely have fresh problem in our hands.
The appointment of technical director must be concrete this time; his duty must be thoroughly spelt to avoid confrontations between the Eagles head coach and the technical director.  What I am saying is that better work environment must be encouraged.

(He recalled that he introduce the position of technical director in the system when he was resigning from the NFA after being there as Vice chairman of the body and its chairman, technical committee for six years. He stressed that the position is meant for a seasoned coach which Amodu met. He was severally deprived of leading the country to the World Cups he qualified the country but self attitude of those that led NFA then.) 
Yes, I have been a long advocate of indigenous approach to solving our coaching problems ideally; Nigeria by now should be comfortable with our own coaches. But things are at the cross roads now. The system is so polarised that the present leadership of the body has to ensure it takes step that would not stock the game again as it did shortly after the last World Cup. The cloud is thick. There are much more to solve in the coaching circle in the country than just waking up to appoint anybody as head of national team coach. The problem in this part of the world is that we try to solve our problems from the roof top instead of getting to the root of the matter. It has been our bane and has retarded the growth and development of sports in the country. The flashes of achievements recorded in some sports like football and athletics came off our usual and most preferred trial and error methods. Sadly, no regime has tried to stop it rather it has fanned the
embers tremendously.

As one that has seen its all, what do you think is wrong with the country’s football?
Well, thank you very much. I must say it is a good question.  What is seen today is not only football. The whole system is destroyed. Yes, football is the major sport in the World and the major problems are many has been how to dutifully and transparently administer the most populous sport in the world. On an attempt to see what to do, present day administrators only succeed in nailing the round leather game. They bruise it so badly and left it in disastrous mood left, right and centre. It has indeed left sour taste in the mouth of the numerous fans and big holes in the vault of the Federal Government, the sole sponsor. That is the ugly face of the game presently in our land.
One of our most undoing in this part of the world is, Lack of planning which has been the worst bane in the running of our sports not only football.  We all knew how we prepare for major championships. It has never been anything to write home about. Actually funds Are released late, but the home truth remains that we have failed to plan ahead like other countries that start their planning for nest major international sporting event immediately the curtain for the present competition is drawn.  Another aspect that our football has experienced over the years is gambling. We assume so many things and at the end of the day we came out worst for it. Learning nothing and forgetting nothing. The fact that we defeated a certain country in the say five years ago won’t translate we can still perform such feat when next we meet. These pitfalls have made us look ordinary when the chips are down. Yet such fall never force us to stop, think and learn.
The country’s reliance in past glory, has led us to woeful outings. The gambling for result has left the country’s sports in ruins. The administrators have not helped matter either. They always think self before the sportsmen and women who are the reason for the existence of a particular sport.  In the other hand, player demand higher allowances which deep down them are artificial. It is ridiculous the issue of bonuses has played its negative role in our football especially.  Such ought to have been strengthened before every major championship. Players don’t trust administrators due to breaches of trust times without number.
The continued absence of workable sports policy no doubt has taken its toll on our football and other sports. The country’s administrators toy with essential things that would grow each of the sports in the land. It reduces the country to nothingness in this computer age. In short, it is shameful.
Greed is another devil that has left the nation’s football dazed; often times the administrators have shown that thereby feeding fat on the allowances of athletes. They also divert funds allocated for sports development into private pockets thereby leaving sports and athletes to suffer. Athletes are left in abject poverty. Greed by administrators in various sports have brought with it no infrastructures development and sadly increased the decay of existing ones. They are common sights in our sports complexes across the country.  It has left football empty handed most times. Economically we have burnt our fingers. No accountability. No availability of trained and groomed coaches. Greed has also resulted in administrators not able to know the duration in planning for championships either short time or long time, such adequate planning by administrators would give room for any training circle and set the tone.
He recalls that in normal circumstances where orderly prevails, these rules of the game must strictly observe as follows:  Preparatory, Transitional, Competitive and Rest period. According to him it is only when these four stages have to be differentiated our coaches would be free. Sporting bodies must take note of this by having effective sub- committees to work along with the coaches the problem remains that the country’s administrators don’t believe in this kind of long time measures because they want quick results from the coaches which put the coaches under intensive pressure.
What’s your take on Stephen Keshi’s sack and engagement of Sunday Oliseh?
General Adebiyi:  To me, it is not an issue. The beauty of the game is coaches are being hired and fired. It is like that all over the world.  Remember he is not the first coach to be sacked and would not be the last either. The issue should be what positives his sack will bring to Nigerian football. From what is on ground I have no seen a departure. Is what we have seen the best of replacement? The problem with Nigerian football and her coaching are far from being solved. This can safely be described as trial and error period. It may come with it, flashes of successes that never stood the test of time. This is Nigeria for you, I am not afraid of controversy, one ex- international striving to out- smart the other, all in the bid to get his own fair share of rehabitation with or without sound coaching qualification.

*****

I believe that a system whereby coach of a national side is hired through the backyard remains an aberration. It has been the crux of the matter in football administration in the country.  The NFF leadership, if they are serious, must vividly work out an atmosphere where the Eagles’ handlers would be ready to take instruction and work under the technical director, Shuaibu Amodu.  Head or tail, we may likely have fresh problem in our hands. The appointment of technical director must be concrete this time; his duty must be thoroughly spelt to avoid confrontations between the Eagles’ Head Coach and the Technical Director.  What I am saying is that a better work environment must be encouraged. That was why I introduced the position of technical director in the system before resigning from the NFA, after being there as vice-chairman, and its chairman, technical committee, for six years.
 I have been a long advocate of indigenous approach to solving our coaching problems. Ideally, Nigeria by now should be comfortable with our own coaches. But things are at the cross-roads now. The system is so polarised that the present leadership of the body has to ensure it takes step that would not stuck the game, again as it did shortly after the last World Cup. The cloud is thick. There are much more to solve in the coaching circle in the country than just waking up to appoint anybody as head of national team coach. The problem in this part of the world is that we try to solve our problems from the roof-top, instead of getting to the root of the matter. It has been our bane and has retarded the growth and development of sports in the country. The flashes of achievements recorded in some sports like football and athletics came off our usual and most preferred trial and error methods. Sadly, no regime has tried to stop it, rather it has fanned the
embers tremendously.
Besides coaches, what’s your take on coaching proper?

 Our coaches are under severe pressure deliver, which is occasioned by the administrators who use such performance to sustain themselves in office. This method has turned the entire fabrics of our sports upside down. It breeds cheating in our age group teams. It is expected that a country that has won U-17 FIFA Cadet World Cup for a number of times to make deep in-roads at the senior World Cup, but the reverse is the case with Nigeria. One can go on and on concerning the kind of coaching that obtains in the country. This crazy quest for immediate result has retarded the zeal to go grassroots for talents. That singular blunder necessitated the hot chase for foreign legion to prosecute our games. It has eaten deep and no administrator is willing to reverse the ugly trend. My take remains that NFF must put its eyes on ground and identify potentials amongst coaches and give them team to handle. It must not be on sentimental basis. Such candidates must be tested and have the required qualification. They must be compelled to draw up deep training programmes for the teams concerned. No green horn should be given a national job because it is no training ground. Rather, it is for already made gaffers that have something tangible to offer.
The solution is that obvious funny targets must not be given to the coaches. Our coaches must be trained and retrained to be at par with their foreign counterparts. Presently, l sincerely doubt the qualification of our coaches.  For instance, fellow ex-internationals should not consider appointment of helmsman of the Super Eagles as rehabilitation ground must be completely discarded.  It will continue to act as an ill-wind at the end of the day. We have seen Oliseh and his Eagles against Tanzania in 2017 qualifier and Niger friendly. We are watching and the clique that took the decision of bringing a green horn to handle a high profile team like the Nigerian side must be ready to answer questions when Nigerians would rise. Pray we pick the Gabon 2017 ticket, otherwise they will be stoned. The standard in Nigerian Institute of Sports (NIS) must be improved upon. Adequate staff, instead of part-time lecturers, should be engaged. Ex-internationals in various sports must be encouraged to go for proper coaching training before applying for national team jobs.  My suggestion is that they strive to go to Nigeria Institute of Sports, provided the institution has equipment for such high-level training. If there is none, the government should as a matter of national urgency facilitate the re-equipping of the institute, to meet with the standard of its counterparts in other lands. When I trained there, there was state-of-the-art equipment managed by the white. Maladministration and wrong priorities killed off the initial dream of the founding fathers.
What’s the way forward?
 We must not fail to ensure that we follow the most accepted international best practices in handling sports matter. We should first and foremost, and in every honesty, re-order our priorities and go back to the basics. There is nothing like sports administration in the country today. What we have is businessmen using the money provided by the government to develop athletes and infrastructure for themselves. The norm is once you are elected as chairman of any sports federation, you’re made. They connive with the secretaries to rip athletes off, leaving them in abject poverty. Tell me any federation chairman that attracts sponsors to our sports today. The whole place is sinking. I must point out here that retired Gen Kenneth Minimah (rtd), despite his then tight schedules, did well for boxing. He stood shoulders high amongst others. Cosmas Maduka, through his company, sponsored table tennis for over 10 years. His withdrawal marked the genesis of the teething problems of the sport in the country till today. The man was poorly rewarded by the leadership of that sport. One can go on and on how other sponsors were treated. We must go back to schools and get talents instead of relying on the failed National Sports Festival jamboree.
I will also urge the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to beam its searchlight on corruption in sports. It should insist on how our sports have been reduced to this ridiculous level. So much water has passed under the bridge. The stranglehold of administrators of athletes and the coaches have reduced our sports to nothingness. The fact is that most times we are expected to be the best in the world, but the truth is that we play with over-aged players. That has obviously  been our major problem. We have been unable to win any other major tournament after the U-17, five years later. At least, 60 per cent of the lads will be main players in the national side. That has not happened since 1985. With U-20, it is sad to say that only Mikel Obi is playing in active league. The big question is: Where are the rest?
Let me also say that of the 1999 set only Joseph Yobo survived till the end. In other countries like Mali and Argentina, their players that played in that tournament in Nigeria still held their own. This is systematic failure in Nigeria which must be thoroughly arrested and put in proper perspective, if we are not really pretending: enough of the deceit. We don’t have to blame our coaches for the cheating. The truth is that targets given to them (coaches) are unrealistic. For example, get to the semi-finals of your championship or get fired. Without much ado, it encourages cheating in all its ramifications. The frequent changing of coaches remains our bane. We are not realistic in this. Everyone speaks on the divide that favours his candidate. We have often employed coaches that knew next to nothing in their area of employment. It has drawn us many steps backwards, and left us empty-headed at the end of the day. Sports should be left in the hands of people that have passion and deep interest on how it would be developed, grown and moved to the next level in the true sense of it. We have must be very cautious of this. No more, no less.

Source Daily Sports

Posted September 28, 2015

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