We must think in terms of solutions, positive solutions...
Our league is boring
let's make it interesting
the stadiums are empty
let's hype it and make it lively
the referees always make wrong calls
let's give them headsets for instant calls
the players play kick and follow
let's give them pitches green and not yellow
the coaches talk like beginners
let's train them to become regulars
our pockets are picked and ladies harassed
let's get adequate security amassed
white balls gets out, blue balls get in
let's get the same white balls and begin
Our game cannot continue to go like this
we have to play better than this
an any how approach by that coach
will most definitely bring reproach
this is football and it is our game
we play it for fun and even for fame
Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argetina all get it right
Nigeria let's do it with all our might
it requires energy, skill and hardwork
yes more of those n a lil luck will make it work
if we can conceive and believe
then we'll all achieve
when the glory comes, we'll all be champions
our stories'll be told while we make millions
The above poem was written by yours truly about a year ago but the factors necessitating this piece is as true today as it was then. Just like a lot of things in Nigeria, there is no true improvement or change in the approach to problem solving.
Listening to other tv analysts and radio commentators proffer solutions to our season of failures, the only suggestion they are quick to throw up is put an end to age cheat. A few of them go ahead to talk about improving the Nigerian Premier League as well as setting up academies. While these are valid suggestions which are not in any way to be discredited, the most significant football industry we have cannot be neglected and only positive solutions are needed to get it up and running.
The theme of the poem above is standards. The Nigerian Premier League (NPL) is devoid of standards of any kind. Coaches have no minimum entry qualification and if there were, it must be some obsolete curriculum from the Nigerian Institute of Sports. The teams have no standardised player contract for youngsters nor professionals. What can we say about the playing surfaces from Enugu to Kano or of different colour of balls in different venues. The list goes on and on.
There must be a regulator and the regulator must clearly define minimum standards for all participants of the league to meet just like anywhere professionals are engaged. For Nigeria to become a footballing powerhouse, the league must be set up to function professionally. This means there must be a standard everything and whatever does not meet this standard cannot be accredited. I am yet to watch a football match in the EPL where the referee wears a different colour of socks from the other assistants but it happens here sometimes.
With a professional league in place, Nigeria will have an industry capable of producing genuine talent, competent coaches and physiotherapists while also contributing to the national economy which is at best today described as solely dependent on oil.
The Nigeria Football Federation and the Nigeria Premier League must decide now to think in terms of solutions instead of passing the buck and positive solutions. Positive solutions begins with setting of minimum standards for everything domestic football in Nigeria.