The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare has called for a “re-engineering” of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) adding that overhauling the domestic league would unlock wider benefits for Nigerian football.
Mr. Dare who was on a visit to the camp of the U23 national team in Abuja highlighted the role the NPFL plays in Nigeria’s football ecosystem pointing to its particular importance in nurturing and providing talent for the national team.
“The domestic league is critical particularly for our footballers because that is where they are nurtured and can be picked to play professional football,” Mr. Dare said. “Also, from the domestic league, we see we can also back-fill into the national team.”
The NPFL had been plagued by a myriad of problems and has seen various commencement dates postponed because of a multitude of challenges.
A new kick-off date of 3 November has been fixed and the Minister while acknowledging the challenges posed by funding, facilities and ownership structure of the league, said his ministry would work with stakeholders in the course of the new season to explore ways of solving the challenges and “re-engineering” the domestic topflight.
“The challenge of funding is true because without funding, nothing can be done. The nature of ownership is by state governments and private individuals so when you look at the whole setup, there are quite a number of stakeholders,” the Minister said.
“Once the league starts proper, we are going to meet with stakeholders and experts to review what has been done and what can be done differently with the sole goal of strengthening the domestic league. Also remember that without the right facilities, if the football pitches are not in good shape, it’s a major drawback. All these problems are not insurmountable.
“There is a lot of work going on and we don’t want it playing out too much in the media so that we are not distracted. We know what to do but we need to work with every stakeholder to make sure we get it right”, Mr. Dare concluded.