An Open Letter To The President Of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick
Good day, sir
I listened very attentively to your speech as you addressed the Super Eagles (who were mainly selected from the Nigerian Professional Football League) before the game against Mexico which they lost 4-0 and would respectfully like to comment on the parts that piqued my interest.
The speech which was meant to motivate the lads rather raised some talking points that are critical to football development in Nigeria.
In that speech you compared the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) to the Major League Soccer (MLS), claiming that the NPFL is better than the MLS. You, however, noted that the MLS has better facilities as if trying to downplay the importance of facilities in football.
No matter how patriotic we want to sound, it is a fact that the NPFL is not up to the standard of the MLS and I mean “standard” in every sense of the word. It is better we desist from such comparisons until we fix our football to the best of our potential.
You also cautioned the lads not to work with agents who might lure them to clubs you referred to as “nonsense clubs” and even threatened not to release their International Transfer Certificate (ITC). Mr. President, let’s face the reality; a talented Nigerian footballer will prefer to go to such a “nonsense club” rather than stay put in a Nigerian top-flight club where owing of salaries is a norm, players’ health and welfare is not taken seriously and contractual agreements not respected.
It might also interest you to know that for the past few years, the best legs from the NPFL most of the time end up in either North Africa, Asia, or the backwater of Europe. This has been a trend and is likely to continue if no attention is paid to our grassroots and youth football systems.
Interestingly, you stated that the idea for arranging the Mexico friendly and other friendly games to come is for the boys to get “exposed”. While that is commendable, it is not what the players in the NPFL need at the moment. It might be a waste of time for players who are used to horrible playing conditions to make quick adjustments to top-level football within a couple of days.
The basic exposure they need is for domestic league games to be on TV every matchday, quality facilities and training staff, and a standard football club structure across the board. This way, the home-based professionals can match up to their international counterparts without any sentiments or bias.
Selecting about 30 NPFL players based on current form to play international friendlies now and then is not “exposure” and might have other underlying objectives.
If you are truly concerned about the future and career of home-based players, then focus on fixing the league. Their success should be measured by how well they fare as home-based professionals rather than playing for the Super Eagles to get noticed by top clubs.
As the number one man overseeing Nigeria’s football affairs, it is imperative to use your capacity and influence to effect positive changes from the grassroots upwards.