Nigerian football coaches have said they want better treatment from the administrators of the sport in the country as their contributions towards the game are not usually appreciated.
The coaches are reacting to the trend of national team and football coaches being owed salaries and pensions after serving their employers.
In less than one year, three former national team coaches – Stephen Keshi, Amodu Shaibu and Paul Hamilton – have died with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) alleged to have owed them several months’ backlog of salaries and pensions.
Keshi and Amodu died in June 2016 while Hamilton died last Thursday after battling heart and kidney-related diseases for a long time.
Also, former Heartland and Enugu Rangers coach, Kelechi Emeteole, who is battling throat cancer, is said to be owed salaries by the clubs he worked for.
Some of the coaches, who spoke with our correspondent, demanded better treatment from the administrators. They lamented the treatment meted out to Nigerian coaches at the expense of their foreign counterparts.
Former Flying Eagles coach, James Peters, said coaches suffer after leaving the teams they handle because football administration in the country is wrong.
“The way football is run in Nigeria is not the way it should be and as long as it is like that, coaches will continue to bear the brunt. With the exception of the few privately-owned clubs, there is no professional football club in Nigeria as of today. Rather what we have are extensions of the government agencies,” he said.
“The governments use clubs as a tool to pacify their cronies after getting elected into positions. In the right sense of it, the administrators of a football club should be elected rather than being appointed as it obtains here.
“When this is going on, the running of the club will be done anyhow the appointed fellow deems it fit when funds are released, the chairman of the club will pocket what he can before thinking of paying the coaches and players. That is why when a coach talks about his plight, he is sacked without any recourse to what he could have achieved for the team.”
He added, “National team coaches are not also treated better. They are not as valued as the foreigners. Coaches deserve better treatment from the administrators and that begins with having the right people in the right places.”
Former Enyimba and Shooting Stars coach, Godfrey Esu, said Nigerian football administrators treat foreign coaches better than Nigerian because of what they get from the foreign coaches’ salaries.
He said, “The administrators will always treat foreign coaches better than they treat us because they will reap something from their salaries. They will not owe them because the money will come through them. Nigerian coaches are the ones who will do the work and suffer at the end because they are patriotic.
“The treatment meted out to past coaches both by the national team administrators and the club administrators has made it difficult for the country to have new coaches. The ones we have now are looking for the escape route and some are working on other things rather than face coaching full time.
“I believe that the coaches are suffering this much because we don’t have the right people in the technical department of the NFF. If former coaches head that department, the welfare of current and past coaches of the teams will be properly looked into.
“Nigerian coaches need to be celebrated while they are alive and not after their death. They should be paid what is due to them at the right time to avoid all that is currently happening to us. It is only in Nigeria that coaches will be owed for years after leaving a team but the administrators will do nothing about it until he is dead and the family begins to raise dust.”
He added, “A coach, who signs up to handle a team, goes through a lot of mental and physical stress to take the team to glory. He will be owed for months and eventually sacked. But what we see here in Nigeria is that their efforts are not appreciated until he is bedridden and begins to beg for what is rightfully his. Such things need to stop to bring more young people into coaching.”
However, General Secretary of the Nigeria Coaches’ Association, Solomon Ogbeide, said the body would soon begin legal action against employers found wanting in the payment of its members’ entitlements.
“In Nigeria, coaches are not appreciated and are usually not paid their dues until they are almost at the point of death or after their death. This is not the best practices anywhere in the world,” he said.
“Nigerian coaches deserve better treatment and we have found out that what is usually the cause is the lack of a binding contract by the coaches. Although most of the young coaches we have in the country now engage lawyers to ensure that contracts are properly drawn, we still have issues of employers failing to pay up.
“The coaches’ association was recently formed and we have been able to register it as a legal body, which can sue and can be sued. Very soon we intend to begin with the education of coaches and also to take legal actions against teams who may be owing coaches.
“The association currently has some cases we are treating and we hope that coaches in the country will be able to come out and speak with one voice through the association.” – Punch.