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OPINION : Give Ex Players A Platform To Help Develop Our Football


Ezindu Okay-Lawrence

*”A practical experience learnt, is more valuable then a book knowledge”* *-EO-L.*

In many advanced societies, there is now a paradigm shift from the common practice of classroom seating, teaching and learning to a more viable method of knowledge, which is research and practical field experience. And actually, a line of thought (philosophy) teaches that often times, *’experience’ is the better teacher’.

Have you wondered why in often cases, in the higher education studies, the Polytechnic higher learnings tend to produce better and usable (handy) graduates than the regular Universities?
The reason for this is not far fetched. Polytechnics focuses majorly on Practicals, rather than Universities, at least in our clime, so I know.

In my opinion article this week, as has become regular, I want to bring the attention of my readers and the authorities that be in Nigeria Football to the much loss football development is running into when there is no organised platform or pettern for ex players and internationals to be involved in or absorbed into football development, starting from the grassroots to the apex league & teams in our Country.

Recently I attended a Uefa approved/ very rich Coaching Seminar as an Instructor, which was brought to Nigeria with the help of agencies and foundations in Denmark, a seminar influenced & orchestrated by one of our Illustrious ex internationals, *Kudos to Abdul Sule,* one player I loved during his playing days, who is among the very few who went through the Youth cadres up till the Top national
Team level (the Super Eagles), he is also the President of ALL NIGERIA FOOTBALL PLAYERS UNION (ANFPU), a Programme which featured prominent members of the Nigerian Football Coaches circle, with the likes of Coach John Obu, Former Under-20 National team Coach, the Present Director AS ROMA Football Academy, who was also An Instructor, Coach Moruf Adeyemo presently with U-17 female national Team that just returned from India, where they made nigeria very proud finishing 3rd in the FIFA U-17 tournament, a very detailed gentleman, also Coach Bartholomew David who is the Present Chairman NFCA, Fct chapter, and the Technical Adviser /Coach who qualified Doma United of Gombe from NNL to the elite division (the NPFL) for the first time in their history, and many other Coaches from Nigeria Premier Football League, Nigeria National League, National wide League, Football Clubs, to top academies in the Country. And as I interacted with lots of these Coaches, I was very amazed to realise that 75% of these men and women were former players who had played to the highest and apex levels both in the Country around the world. It suddenly dawned on me the great number and high level of experiences being overlooked or allowed to waste away simply because there is no platform to absorb them when they retire from active football. A very sad situation in a Country this large.

Many of these ex-players came to this Seminar plus many others, on their own efforts for personal development into coaching roles as Football has been everything they have known in their adult lives.
No Structural support or Government interventions in supporting them to develop into Coaches.

I only could pause and think of the much needed experiences gathered over the years that could have been passed down the ladder if there was a proper channel of reintroducing these sporting men and women who have, through their playing years learnt, not by classroom, but by practical experiences, knowledges that would have really helped the younger generations when transferred.


I make bold to say that, if we have passion for development, there could be structures that will ensure that ex internationals form part of the coaching/technical backroom of many elite teams, age-grade national teams and all recognised government approved Academies across states of the Federation and FCT.
If policies and laws as these are made, and enforced to the fact that teams, as a matter of technical upgrade requirements, must have one or two ex internationals among their ranks, then the football and grassroots development structures will have a new revamp in their technical and tactical approach as these our Illustrious ex players will bring their knowledge to the development of both playing & administrative structures, which in turn the country at large will benefit hugely.

I had to savour, the richness of the engagements and interactions I had with many of these amazing coaches who were students in this very huge and successful Seminar / Course as organised by Abdul Sule and the All Nigeria Players’ Union, I could not help but be proud to say that against the public false opinion, the Nigerian Football administration can be one of the top most, and player developments can be the best within West Africa if we decide to take advantage of the availabilities of human resources naturally gifted to us by the Almighty creator of the universe.

For a minute, on a larger scale, imagine the likes of Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Lookman Ademola, Desire Oparanozie, Asisat Oshoala, Onome Ebi, the likes of Victor Osimhen Kelvin Bassey etc, Or Obafemi Martins, Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, the likes of Vincent Enyiama & their mates being reintroduced into the technical staff of any team after their active playing days, how do you think the technical improvements of those team would fare?
Your guess is as good as mine.

Can you just imagine the motivation those younger ones will have seeing these national treasures in their training and dishing instructions, telling their stories and helping the young ones get better in their foundational stages. We can achieve this.

Speaking with one of the Foreign Seminar Instructors from Denmark, a former player and team mate of Abdul Sule during his playing days in Denmark, Mr Anders Levinsen the Director Cross Cultures Project who is the head of the foreign delegation / Foundation that put the Seminar together, he shared his huge surprise at the human resources and intelligence available among attendees of the seminar, how it is easy to work with these Coaches and achieve a target goal on a given topic.
In his words, “These Coaches are amazing, I am wowed, Nigeria is hugely blessed, I didn’t realise this when I was coming, but surely, this has been one of my best trips and Seminars, and I have had over 50 of them accross the world. I am proud to say, that I will be back in Nigeria shortly, these group are a joy to work with, and you guys are happy people. It was fun, and I Love it” Mr Anders Levinsen concluded.

Now in conclusion, since we have these great blessings and many wells of experiences to draw from, I think it will be just to our best interest if we begin to find avenues to glean from these available wells of knowledge and experiences of these ex internationals while we can for the proper development and standard foundation plus uprising of the younger talents.

God bless Nigeria Football and God bless Nigeria Football Coaches.

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