Friday, January 7, 2011

My thoughts about Football

Anytime I watch the premiership/LA Liga/Champions leagues (once in while when I join hubby to watch his favourite matches particularly that of his club – Manchester United (I have to quickly mention here that I became a Man U fan by marriage… lol)), what comes to mind is how much the young Europeans/South American/British have been empowered by that ball played by foot. From ages ranging mainly between 18-26 , you find the most priced players who are usually the best in their leagues. Earnings ranging from 25,000 – 30,000 pounds a week for regular players and a range of 60,000 - - 150000 pounds per week for some exceptions.

I sat back down and wondered about the Nigerian fans mostly within the age bracket of 25 – 40 years how many of these fans have been so empowered; how many have grown up with half the opportunities these young footballers have?
The craze for or passion (if you like) with which Nigerians (both literate and illiterate alike) follow up on this game is sometimes maddening. I think to myself and I do not think I’m wrong (I stand corrected) that most of these Nigerians/Africans have given up on their own nation’s providence and thus turn away to put their passions into just watching (and be entertained) with admiration young footballers in order to numb real issues that beg their attentions which might challenge their minds and the status quo.

A typical Chelsea fan knows all the players by their first and second name; knows their substitutes, each player’s play history in terms of which club they had played for and how much they earned and presently earn. They can predict the player’s next career move and I sometimes wonder how accurate some of the predictions turn out. I then imagine who knows about Nigerian league players. If at all anyone does know, to what extent? The answer is very simple and easy to point out. Our home-based players are not recognised or celebrated simply because they haven’t been empowered like their European counterparts.

Why so I’d ask further? Because of the nation’s poor economy as well as leadership and followership problems. A country which does not care for the newly born, the children, the youth nor the aged. The only way these young minds (and some retired minds) keep busy is to develop a passion for what is entertaining but well beyond their reach. Such passion as I’ve seen many men (and some few women) demonstrate. We have heard of fans killing/maiming and injuring one another over a match right here in this nation while the match was being played in Europe and the players do not as much as get wind of such events. During a discussion with a friend, I asked whether it was possible for a young man to show passion for something asides football such as nation building, marriage, business, work and what she thought would be the impact. She merely laughed and said she had wondered about it sometimes also.

If these young men could come to a realization of the possibilities that lie right in their backyards. If they could imagine a better society which could turn them to stars in and outside the country, just maybe their approach to football will take on a fresh perspective.
A young Nigerian player earning a million naira (which is just about 4000 pounds) monthly for playing soccer would change his socio-economic status and that of his immediate family and further to the extended family. This will in turn translate to an empowered family, society and economy. But the young men of this generation (save for a few who have started realizing this) have long given up hope of a better society in Nigeria. Many young graduates who work in banks can hardly boast of 200, 000 naira monthly. And with the current situation in the country, that money can barely maintain him (and possible his wife and child (if married), talk more of supporting a brother or a sister. In every society though, there will always be those who will pursue education, some whose natural inclination is to sport and some who have entrepreneurial spirit.

The essence of this write-up is to stir up the young minds of this nation to begin to see the possibilities which abound and begin to critically think about how to make them happen because the future is in our hands. If we can develop a passion for development, growth, leadership and improved standard of living, we might then get inspired to do the necessary duties which will take us to that envisioned future. If men would sit together (maybe after a football match) and critically analyse the problems we face and proffer actionable actions which each person can start carrying out in their own corner of the society, just maybe some real change might come forth out of it. It’s no use complaining and watching some old men run our collective lives when we are much younger, more energetic, more intelligent and have technology to our advantage. This is a call to the young men (and women) to stand up to more serious issues (and do something about them) which affects us more than just mere entertainment.

I imagine an Eyimba player who earns 1million naira (the least paid) and I imagine the ripple effect of that wealth on his family and community. Many youths would be empowered  and would desists from militancy, theft, armed robbery, thuggery, cultism and kidnapping as a means of livelihood but will readily delight in doing a job which puts them on TV and the possibility of developing a fan base across the globe (fame) while their families are well provided for by their earnings.

I have always known that Nigerians have much more potential than they think they possess and if given the right opportunities (such as an equal playing field on the football field) to discover their talents and groom it. Examples are Mikel Obi, Taye Taiwo, Kanu Nwankwo and so many other Nigerians who have shown the whole world that they are in no way inferior to their European counterparts. I'm not saying people should not watch football but I'm saying that just a little passion should be taken off football for some of our never-ending problems (it does have an end if people are ready to fight for positive change)

Leadership has failed its duties to us as citizens but now is time for the followers to restore hope for its future. I think everyone ought to start looking at the view of a transformed Nigeria so that they might be inspired to take a stance to do something to achieve it (as well as encourage people around them). As for me, I have started making people around me conscious of the coming elections (I engage them in such discussions to hear their views and orient some misinformed persons). Come 2011, I will register and I will vote the “right” candidate based on character, past achievements and vision. I will get involved with projects which inspire and encourage the development of the grassroots. I will SPEAK out against wrongdoing wherever I am. I will STAND UP for justice, equity and fairness everywhere and every time. I will help to build rather than destroy this nation in my own little way. I will uphold her honour and glory.. So help me God.
What do you say?


  1. Today, our football mirrors the national malaise – untapped potential, turning to foreign products as we have done for rice, medical diagnosis and treatment, education, clothing, shoes, cable tv, mobile phones, cars and virtually everything! Now we can’t even run football successfully.

    I call it dividend of democracy. This is a time for sober reflection by the government to change its attitude towards sports. This is a
    sector with the capacity to reduce unemployment and social unrest in the country, but it has been relegated to the background or politicized.

    I think the country needs Overhauling.

  2. Bosun, may God help our youths the TRUTH to know.

  3. In my opinion, life has enough issues for us to handle and hardly enough can be done to meet life's challenges anyway. Even if we win every individual or collective battle, we still lose in the end the final battle of 'mortality'. I believe in beauty, I believe in love, I believe in peace and I believe in people. There is beauty in passion and if you find passion in sports, books, singing, dancing or even in BOXING, then pause and admire that beauty for it makes life worth living. Take a deep breath also and love. Love someone/something. Love a pastime or extracurricular activity. All work and no play... find pleasure in something not serious. Dont be "that killing fan" or the brutish obsessed husband who threw his wife out of the highrise because of champions league football, but by all means, do not criticize the ones who look Premiership or boxing or even surfing. Try to understand the passion. I used to say to people who wonder what makes chess such an alluring activity, ... you can not know, till you play on that level!
    Have a great week.

    1. Thanks Dee! I understand that we try to 'relax' from the hassles of life with sports entertainment or movies and honestly there is no crime in that. However, if you noticed, I am challenging us to remove a little passion off of football and instead use that little (could be 30%) in the development of our own society (whatever little way that may come.) I mean, so much time is dedicated to learning about these football players and game analyses and such a time does not add any value to our children on the long run. WHat then will we leave them when 'mortality' comes to an end. We need to realize that the task of nation building requires sacrifice from us but the beauty of it is that we will be leaving a better place for our children's children rather than piling up problems (that we and generations before us created) for them thereby making their lives more miserable and unreckoned.

      And I'm sure we will both agree that Europe didn't fall down from heaven as a beautiful and well organized place (we get so carried away admiring the planning and organizing that is meticulously done in European sports and other areas of their lives). The founding fathers of those countries made sacrifices to prepare such a beautiful heritage for their children and their children's children. And each generation has tasked itself to keep improving on what was left behind. We (everyone not just a select few - and this is particularly focussing on followership) need to salvage our counrty not just for our own sakes but for our children that they may be proud & bonafide citizens (not second class or third world as we are often being referred to) of earth. May God help our youths the TRUTH to know.


  4. To enjoy a hockey, a baseball or a soccer game when a person needs some down time is one thing. But professional sports (and whatever goes with it) is way out of balance with what is really important in the evolution of humankind.