President General (worldwide) of Nigerian Football and Other Sports Supporters Club Dr. Rafiu Ladipo has stated in clear terms that football in the country is ‘dying’ and needs urgent attention from all and sundry to resuscitate the game.
In an interview on Lagos Television on Tuesday, Dr. Lapido blamed journalists, administrators and coaches for the dwindling fortunes of the game in Nigeria.
For the journalists, the long-serving leader of the Supporters Club accused them of ‘celebrating mediocrity’, claiming that sportswriters no longer carry out objective and positive criticisms.
“Maybe we went to the (Africa) Cup of Nations in Egypt and came back with a bronze, but before then Nigeria has won bronze seven good times,” he noted. “So, it wasn’t a new thing. But we’ve won the gold (before).
“The problem is that our football is dying and something needs to be done.
“You see, we celebrate mediocrity: I am talking of journalists, mediocrity. We knew where we were in 1994, in 1996, in 1998, in 2000. Journalists were helping us; they criticise positively and corrections were made, and brought our football to the level.
“Of course, we had programmes from the schools to the national level, journalists encouraged us. But these days, journalists don’t talk again. They talk passively.
“We have seen the problem with the administrators, we have seen the problems with the technical crew, we have seen the problems with our national league, and we keep crying.
“So, it is the problem of every one of us and we cannot continue to have Nigerian football going down like this all the time.”
While highlighting possible solutions to the poor posture of Nigerian football, Ladipo, who is also the president of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control (NBBofC) blamed the state of league football in the country, calling on coaches and administrators to focus on youth and grassroots development in order to raise the standard of the game.
“If the administration is poor, how can you have quality players? It cannot happen,” he stated. “So, we need administrators, we need coaches that can tinker our football.
“It is there: our football is not what it should be. As far as I am concerned, in the last five years, we have not won anything.
“And our football, again, is a reflection of the league. Our league itself is not what it was and it is not what it should be. We need to move from where we are now and take the positive lane of how to grow our football. Grow the football from grassroots.
“How many of the clubs in Nigeria now can boast of academies? And so, all the clubs that are doing well in Europe or elsewhere they have all these things. We want to be like them. (But) We cannot be like them if we don’t do it the way they are doing it.”
Amongst the recent misfortunes in Nigerian football is the failure of the Super Falcons to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the home-based Super Eagles failing to make next year’s CHAN tournament, while the country’s representatives in the CAF inter-club competitions have had a relatively poor outing so far.