NIGERIA FOOTBALL AND ITS DEVELOPMENT PROCESS.
If wishes were horses, I would have wished for my beloved country a page from the German football development book, a page on their recent victories at the 2017 Confederation cup and the European Under 23 Championship.
While they won the confederation cup, a competition for teams aspiring to win the senior men’s World Cup with their U23 team, they won the U23 European championship using their U21 team. How ingenious one would say!
This in effect simply means that apart from late bloomers that the Bundesliga will continue to throw-up year in year out for selection, the German National men football team (Die Mannschaft) is sure of a steady supply of talented, researched,documented and monitored players for at least the next 12 years. The U21 players will be at their peak at about the age of 31, 32years in 2029, almost 4world cups from now. Whether they change coaches or not, their long and short term plans are on ground, a new coach could tinker with his tactical plans but the federation’s developmental plan remain sacrosanct!
What Father Tiko of blessed memory started won the 1980 Africa Nation cup, instead of continuation, maybe because there was no development plan on ground we went into “groping in the dark mode” until a certain Coach Westerhof arrived with a program and with the backing and protection of the powers that be, produced what can be referred to as the golden era/boys of Nigerian football.
When Westerhof was cut down, he, the baby, bathing water, sponge, soap and his plans were thrown away. The country meanwhile, continued to ride on the back of the players Westerhof produced, and by the time the last set of the Atlanta 96 players were rested epileptic performance mode set-in.
We have since continued to grope from pillar to post in the dark hoping to through trial and error reach heaven in the midst of sins.
We must have a road map stating clearly what our objectives are, how we intend to achieve them, and of course set goals as markers over time.
This is key, the German example above is based, nurtured and attained through a well thought out development plan. It has to start from the primary schools if we really want to catch them young and start grooming after identification. For this to work, the primary, secondary schools and tertiary institutions will need to have trained Coaches, which leads to the need to mass produce Coaches.
The other time I talked about how mass production of coaches can be achieved. I suggested, the Authorities request CAF/FIFA to send instructors to help Chief Festus Onigbinde and his team train COACHING INSTRUCTORS who will go back to six(6) geo-political zones and states that need and can afford to mass produce Coaches. It’s very possible. Although what they are doing in Abuja merit high commendations but because of the size and magnitude of the football population if you are to start from primary schools, something more massive need to be done on production of coaches.
The present situation where players come in contact with trained coaches for the first time when they get to Nigeria premier league clubs is a big hindrance to development. This is partly so, because coaches education in the country presently is aimed at only the NPL Clubs forgetting that the 8year olds in primary schools need to be taught the correct technics at this point in their development, what they learn at this age will remain a part of them all through their careers.
In conclusion, to have the kind of ideal situation of the Germans stated above, and not what we now have where our victorious Under teams are always unable to progress to the next Under grade. A situation where an under 17 team would win the world championship and 3years later non of them is in the under 23 team does not portray planing.
We must have in place long and short term plans, set goals with time frames, mass produce/train Coaches, because the ratio of TRAINED coaches to players in the country today is alarmingly poor, we need to do away with the enduring age cheating in our age-grade teams.
BEN DUAMLONG once coached the Flying Eagles Coach