NFF should help players build meaningful life after the game
Harrison Jala is the President of National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANF). In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, he talks about myriad of challenges facing Nigerian coaches and footballers at the national and cub levels
What is your assessment of coaches’ welfare at the national and club level?
Nigerian coaches in terms of expertise and how they apply themselves to their jobs are trying within available resources to empower themselves. In other countries, there are always programmes orgnaised for coaches to improve their skills and keep it updated. If you take the job they are doing into consideration, from the state to national level, there is a need for them to always update their knowledge.
As we speak today, there is no programme of development for the coaches. The highest and the only institution we have is the National Institute For Sports which is poorly equipped. As far as the game of football is concerned, the institute is not a befitting one for Nigeria.
The institution cannot produce coaches that can give the best training to the pool of talents we have in this country. Look at Iheanacho for instance, after the under 17 World Cup, it was straight to Man City. That is an exceptional challenge. We must have a system where players are developed from the grassroot. The school system is in shambles. Some of these private schools don’t have facilities for recreation. It is a huge national programme. Coaches must be adequately equipped because they are underdeveloped from grassroot to the club and national level.
What is Coaching Association doing in this regard?
As we speak, the coaches association is polarised and politicized. We have the late Austin Akosa and Fola Newton’s faction. The Coaching Association is a shadow of itself and grossly underfunded. Today, they are handicapped and don’t have a functioning secretariat. It is when they are properly organised that they can look after their welfare. I think they are trying to find their feet back. The new President is trying to get the Coaching Association on track.
Why are the coaches not together, undermining themselves?
It has to do with the fact that they have completely submitted themselves under the control of Nigerian Football Federation. They cannot organise themselves outside the federation. They don’t have independence of their own because if they have, they would not be under the control of NFF. They have mortgaged their independence and that is why the rate of growth and development is very slow. It is when they become independent that they can begin to speak and develop themselves.
What of the welfare of the players at the club and national level?
Nothing is being done. It is nothing to write home about. The federation itself never has any programme to ensure that when players retire, they can live a life of comfort. It should be the responsibility of NFF to help players build a meaningful after the game.
What is your body doing in this regard?
Our association is being frustrated to keep us perpetually stagnant. I think it is a deliberate act. You can see coaches like Shuaibu Amodu, Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh, the list is endless, and they were owed salaries. They don’t remunerate players according to contract agreed upon. The media has abandoned its traditional role of reporting this ill to the public. I believe the government will definitely effect the changes if the media report issue in the football sector properly. On our own we are working on reforming the association of football in the country. We are working with the government to ensure that we get our standard back.