There are moments, and there are ‘moments’ to remember. As the 2016 curtains fall, we recount the blessings and the short-comings in the sporting world.
From Nigerian Professional Football League side Rangers International to the sports ministry and administrator(s), the Nigeria Football Federation, Olympic outing, Table-Tennis These are the moments you envisaged and say ‘never expected’ according to our dear sports minister.
Rangers Football Club: Let us start with the good news. Yes, good news. Many may even say this qualifies as the best moment of the calendar year 2016. The club broke a 32-year jinx of not winning the league. Coach Imama Amakpakabo led the Antelopes to the wonderful season capped with glory which would also see the club participate in the CAF Champions league.
Olympic Outing: This was one event many Nigerians will never forget in a hurry. In Table Tennis, Aruna Quadri did the nation proud by emerging as the first African ever to make it to the quarter finals of the men’s single table tennis event at the Olympics before bowing out.
Nigeria left Rio de Janeiro with only a bronze medal won by the men’s football team after beating Honduras 3–2 in third place to save the nation from recording a medal-less outing. Amidst the sufferings, the team led by Samson Siasia was able to clinch Bronze. The team had issues with the federation and sports ministry with regards to payment of allowances and bills. Shame! Thanks to Japanese Plastic surgeon, Dr. Katsuya Takasu who came to the rescue with $390,000 donation to the team.
Sports Ministry and Dalung: Some still ask, what is the sports ministry and its minister Solomon Dalung doing? The answer is simple, they do nothing because they expect nothing. The Falcons went as usual preparing for a tournament they know win, and have dominated for quite some time. But this administration openly stated that it never expected the Super Falcons to win the Women’s Nations Cup, yes the minister said so! This time, there was no one to rescue the team. The girls protested at the National Assembly. Did we have to get here.
We here there might be a major shake-up in the cabinet, perhaps President Muhammadu Buhari needs to save the nation some embarrassment and appoint another minister who has the know-how or who is ready to consult and wok with those who should know.
The NFF: Without much ado, the federation has been embroiled with too many money issues. It is either the current NFF leadership has been unable to properly organize its funds or that someone is not being accountable. Whichever it is, the NFF must keep its house clean.
League Management Company / Private Ownership of Football Club: It has been an eventful year for the body administering the country’s topflight football league. The LMC signed a memorandum of understanding with their Spanish counterpart La Liga in order to help develop the Nigerian league. It was stated that the partnership would see Nigerian coaches and clubs embark on capacity building tour of Spain and also see the La Liga establish a liaison office in Nigeria. In August, NPFL All stars traveled to Spain on a tour which was the first of its kind.
Furthermore, the parties have agreed to help develop an U-15 league which would see each premier league club set up a youth system to serve as feeder to the main teams.
On private club ownership, the emergence of FC Ifeanyi Ubah, MFM FC must be commended. The Nnewi-based side clinched a slot in the CAF Confederation cup having won the NFF Federation cup. The club also signed a partnership with English Premier League side, WestHam United for football-related projects and development.