By Akeem Busari
A football expert has described recent events in Nigeria football as a bag of bitter- sweet peas.
This was the opinion of US trained football coach and educator, Gboyega Olutade, while speaking at a seminar on ways to develop football in the country.
Olutade, a youthful but seasoned football coach with playing and coaching experience garnered across six countries including USA, UAE, Bahrain, Ghana, Nigeria and Thailand, lamented the standard of football and particularly, the low quality of the present crop of Nigerian footballers.
He was also irked that the local football is no longer on television.
“I will personally describe the league as a low quality one and absolutely, non-appealing. Factors to look at includes poor officiating, terrible stadiums, pitches and facilities.
“And painfully, too, we don’t have our football on television. I doubt if any football league would succeed financially without television money. It is the oxygen that gives life to the game globally. Without it football will ‘die’. That’s what is happening now to Nigerian domestic football, ” the much sought tactician remarked.
He stressed that football in Nigeria needs surgical operations for it to really develop in all aspects. As he also expressed concern on the quality of coaching and players in the local league.
“We need to improve also on the training and development of coaches as well as the reorientation of our referees and fans. All of these and more, would help attract sponsors to our football,” he noted.
Continuing, Olutade, demanded improvement in officiating by referees, an aspect of the game he describes as crucial.
“Referees have to be neutral and fair in their officiating. Bribery would never help the League. This crazy factor is not helping clubs and players reach their potentials, as they already know what a game, mostly home matches, would look like prior to the games.
“How do you then know a quality striker or determine a good defender, or even a good team, if their game results are not portraying their actual abilities? It’s a major factor that needs to be completed fixed, not necessarily perfect, but more than reasonable, ” he asked rhetorically.
According to him, Nigeria football needs a model and structure.
He emphasised that grassroots and youth football development is the way forward for Nigeria football.
“We need to build a model and structure. The rough selection idea wouldn’t help us. If we continue this way, we are only deceiving ourselves. As a football-loving nation, we need to go back to the roots, build a model and have a better continuity structure,” he admonished.