Good morning Everyone. It’s Saturday and you deserve something of a lengthy read. I hope I’m able to feed you that today but there is a matter on my mind I’ll really love to share today. It’s on sustaining our football culture through talent discovery, grooming and development. Let’s delve in.
At the start of the season we announced that Enyimba was promoting a Left Back from the feeder team, it felt like news that a barren woman had given birth to triplets. Everyone was excited about this guy and that’s not because of his name: true football fans know no club can be said to be making progress when there is little or nothing coming from their ranks.
To be honest, the big guns in Europe rarely depend on the junior teams primarily for playing personnel. Barcelona for instance has a vibrant football academy that roll out players annually (Hello Ezekiel Bassey), but for a Lionel Messi there also is a Bojan. They may not all achieve extraordinary stuff for the club but they would surely be a plus for football.
While the clubs in Europe can hide behind that, clubs in Africa and indeed Nigeria cannot afford to. Why? Because they don’t even command the kind of money these clubs do. In balancing the football ecosystem, these big European clubs would have to spend money to buy players, both established and upcoming talents to help clubs in places like Nigeria.
So why are our clubs not doing business? It’s simple. They are not paying heed to talent discovery, grooming and development. A club is more concerned with winning at all costs to avoid relegation and no one cares if the team is really improving. With relegation avoided, the government can keep releasing money to pay salaries and acquire new players. You win the battle no doubt but the war won’t be won.
This means the club loses the opportunity of home grown talent and consequently prospective businesses that would have produced more revenue. Alot of our NPFL teams claim they have feeder teams but talk to some of the boys who play in these feeder teams, you will be dumbfounded. Many pay these feeder coaches for an opportunity to play. Some give as much as all of the stipends these clubs pay them.
Coaches who accept these gifts from these boys eventually fail to make impact in the lives of the boys, why the boys and paying so they are playing. Little or no knowledge is impacted and unless this player does personal development programs of his own. He would never graduate into the senior team of these clubs. Purpose of course well and truly defeated.
Club administrators need to do more to improve the lower cadre of their teams. They must hire the best hands for the job. Not hungry people who have little or no contribution to the game. Players should be rolled out as often as possible to see them graduate into the senior team. It is impossible that in a country as big as ours, we can’t find exceptional players.
As a country we may have made horrible mistakes but here in our football setup, we can make things work. We can put up structures that will not only help young talents get their career underway but will fetch a lot of revenue for the club. This is how small clubs become big clubs of tomorrow with an enviable financial base.
That’s all I’ve got this Saturday morning.
Back tomorrow with a match preview