EDITORIAL: Task Force For U17, U20, U23s Far Much More Than Cash Donations
With the urgent need to reposition the country’s age-group teams, NFF President Ibrahim Gusau swung into action to appoint a three-man Task Force led by Katsina FA Chairman Aminu Kurfi Balele aka Dan Arewa (PICTURED).
The Flamingos have since recorded their best-ever performance at the U17 FIFA World Cup in India, where they finished third, and the Nigeria U23s have advanced to the final playoffs for the U23 AFCON after they eliminated Tanzania.
Balele has led the charge for the country’s age-group teams to return to winning ways by personally donating huge cash gifts to the teams and even partly paying for the U23s flight tickets to Tanzania.
This is commendable, but not sustainable as far more needs to be done by the Task Force to ensure these teams are winning again.
To begin with, there have been serious and distasteful allegations about cash-for-call-ups leveled against the handlers of the U23s for the qualifier against Tanzania.
The Task Force must investigate these allegations without further delays and bring to book any official who is found culpable.
Only the best players should represent Nigeria, not those who are ready to pay their way to do so.
The Task Force must be mindful of the fact that to guarantee the best results only the best players should play for the country at any time.
In the absence of a Technical Committee, the Task Force must also hold to account the various head coaches of these national teams.
This it can do by ordering the coaches to defend their call-ups, deliver a detailed post-match technical appraisal as well as proposed training programmes.
In return, the salaries and allowances of these coaches must be paid as and when due so that they do not have to resort to self-help by grabbing what is offered them by agents and clubs desperate for their players to be capped at this international level.
The Task Force in conjunction with the NFF has to set targets for all the teams complete with the attendant rewards.
The Task Force must also as a matter of urgency see how the national age-group teams will enjoy adequate preparations leading to major competitions.
Fire-brigade preparations by these teams should have gone with the past NFF Executive Committee.
Proper preparations will cost a lot of money and with the NFF buried by mounting debts, the Task Force ought to get the football federation to partner State Governments and interested companies to adopt some of these teams, like the Sports Ministry has done so successfully in track and field.
In this case, the NFF have to explore how the Oyo State Government headed by Governor Makinde could adopt the U23 team right up to next year’s U23 AFCON in Morocco.
This will mean the State Government will take up some of the training camp expenses of the team for their final playoffs against Guinea in March 2023 and hopefully their preparations for the U23 AFCON proper when they qualify.