Nigeria: Sports Minister Charges NFF On Players’ Commitment

The Moment (London)

Martin Odiete

31 December 2011

ACTING Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Bolaji Abdullahi, has enjoined the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation to work toward re-orientating players selected to represent the country at all levels, noting that commitment was important to achieving results.

The minister said this while addressing the congress of the Nigeria Football Federation, which took place in Kaduna on Thursday.

He said: ‘Commitment on the field of play and patriotic zeal go a long way in achieving results, but the tenor of these virtues in our national teams has been very low.’

Abdullahi said that lack of commitment of the players has spurred the agitation for a return to the grassroots to identify and harness budding talents.

‘These talents will be harnessed and refined appropriately through a well-structured and dynamic process to become good enough to represent our country,’ he said.

The Minister, who was represented by Bolaji Ojo-Oba, the Director, Federations and Elite Athletes Development (FEAD) in the National Sports Commission (NSC), said that such re-engineering would ultimately help football.

He urged the Nigeria Football Federation to urgently restrategise to ensure that football reclaims its glorious days.

Abdullahi said this was necessary to ensure that the country comes out better from recent poor results.

‘It is said that to become a man is not by never falling, but by rising each time he falls. Nigeria football is down currently and this assembly must provide the necessary re-engineering.

‘If we must be honest with ourselves, it has not been a particularly good year for Nigeria football. But this re-engineering is what will take it through the furnace, from which it will ultimately come out better,’ he said.

The NSC chairman noted that the last quarter of 2011 brought much to worry about in the country’s football.

‘While football is a huge binding factor among Nigerians, our teams failed to qualify for some important competitions and our football-passionate public is disenchanted and disaffected.

‘But, it is a fact that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has taken it seriously. In fact, Jonathan personally monitors our teams’ performances at home and abroad.

‘But the past few months’ performances have been worrying,’ he said.

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