Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Greensprings Example

Early last month, Saturday, March 2nd, 2013, to be precise, I was one of the resource persons at the 2nd Annual Greensprings School Sports Forum, held at the school’s expansive campus in Lekki, Lagos.

Greensprings, by the way, is one of the oldest elite private schools in Lagos. They are a near-perfect example of how a school should be, with a very large compound, excellent teaching facilities and excellent play grounds for all kinds of sports including a standard football pitch, basketball court, swimming pool, etcetra.

If all was well with Nigeria’s educational system, Greensprings is a model of how all primary and secondary schools either public or private should look in terms of the environment and infrastructure. But my focus here is on the school’s sports activities.

The theme of the forum was The Role of Media in Schools Sports Development and I was asked to present the lead paper. AIT’s Mama Sport, Aisha Falode, also presented a paper in which she spoke passionately about women and sports. There were other speakers as well and a very impressive audience.

As a knowledge-sharing exercise, I plan to reproduce here in this column soon, excerpts from the paper that I presented. But first, I want to give a public commendation to the management of Greesprings Schools for their very elaborate programmes for sports. If you talk about academics and sports going hand-in-hand and moulding the truly complete child, Greensprings is quite examplary.

Just last week, the school hosted its second annual Greensprings/Kanu Football Camp which is organized in conjunction with former Super Eagles captain Nwankwo Kanu. I had planned for my son, Abdulmueez, to attend but the duration clashed with another programme involving his own school.

The highlight of the Greensprings football camp was the school’s decision to give scholarships to two talented boys from some apparently less-privileged schools to continue their education and also have an opportunity to develop their football skills at Greensprings. Musa Alli from Longford International School, Ebute-Metta, Lagos and Elvis Onyese of Iba Housing Estate Junior Secondary School, Ojo, Lagos are the two lucky boys.

Some critics might accuse Greensprings of cherry-picking but try and suggest that to Alli and Onyese’ parents or guardians who now don’t have to worry about school fees, yet have their kids not only attending one of the best schools in the country, but also having an excellent opportunity to develop their  football talents and possibly become superstars in the future.

From me, all I have to say to Greensprings is well done!

Sticking with the Eaglets

TALKING about developing superstars for the future, that was the focus of my article on the Golden Eaglets last week. As expected, loads of soccer fans immediately pounced on me for allegedly “praising the team too early” following their shock 1-0 loss to Cote d’Ivoire at the on-going CAF Under-17 Championship in Morocco. When the sms bombardment wouldn’t stop, I decided to restate my confidence in the Eaglets in Complete Sports the following day. Luckily, the Eaglets responded positively and smashed Congo DR 7-0 in their next game. The sms from my critics immediately stopped coming!

One recurring refrain in the earlier messages was that it was too early to tip the Eaglets for greatness because “they had not won anything.” I want to restate here that a youth team doesn’t have to win anything before you prepare or tip them for greatness. What you need to spot is the talent, the potential, the discipline and the determination to succeed. I am convinced that the current set of Eaglets have these characteristics in abundance. That is why I’m tipping them for greatness if they are properly nurtured,
We must stop the practice of disbanding our youth teams just because they failed to win a youth tournament. These tourneys are meant only to develop the players for the senior competitions in the future. Winning a youth trophy should be the only yardstick for measuring greatness. Winning should only be a bonus while failure to win should not disrupt a properly laid-out developmental programme. Winning a youth trophy should not be an end in itself, but a means to a greater end.

Meanwhile, the Eaglets’ loss to CIV was only their first defeat in nearly 30 games since they were put together. It’s probably even good for them because, to be a true champion, you must experience the joy of winning and the pain of losing along the way. I hereby repeat that, win or lose the trophy in Morocco, I stand by my projection that these Eaglets, if properly harnessed, are destined for great things in the future.

Champions United

MANCHESTER United clinched a historic 20th English League title after beating Aston Villa 3-0 with a Robin van Persie hat-trick at Old Trafford on Monday night. The title is well deserved as the Red Devils have proved once again that they are the most consistent team in the EPL.

Head-to-head and man-for-man, however, I will pick “Noisy Neighbours” Manchester City as a better team than United. As City coach Roberto  Mancini correctly noted, the talent gap between the two teams is not as wide as the points gap in the league table suggests. But Mancini must take the blame for not being able to consistently guide and inspire the huge talents at his disposal. If Sir Alex Ferguson or even Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger were to handle the City team as they are, they would win the EPL by an even wider margin than this comparatively “average” but pragmatic United team has done. Well done to Sir Alex, and congrats to all Manchester United fans in Nigeria.

While United were winning the title, Liverpool’s controversial striker Luiz Suarez was making the headlines again for the wrong reasons, biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic on the arm when both teams played a 2-2 draw at Anfiled.

Everyone already knows that Suarez is both talented and controversial  in equal measure but few would have expected that he would repeat his animalistic behaviour that fetched him a seven-match ban previously at Ajax Amsterdam. Suarez has apologised for his “inexcusable behaviour” while the English Professional Players’ Association have reportedly said they would assist him with “anger management counselling”.

Nigeria League in Turmoil

THE Nigeria Professional League is in turmoil again as “club owner/managers” are up in arms against the  League Management Committee (LMC) led by Nduka Irabor on the league reforms being introduced by the latter. The LMC has the backing of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the ministry of sports/National Sports Commission (NSC). And since most football clubs are actually “owned” and sponsored by state governments, the NSC is reportedly trying to rally states commissioners for sports to deal with the errant “club owner/managers” so that the LMC’s reforms can sail through. The snag is that some of the “club owner/managers” are better connected politically and are more powerful in their  states than their sports commissioners. In which case, only the state governor has the power to call the “club owner/manager” to order.

If NSC boss Bolaji Abdullahi has to go all the way to the state chief executives to get the renegade club managers  to fall in line, he should do it. I am in full support of the league reforms in principle because I have always known that the so-called club managers are the biggest beneficiaries of the rot in the system.
Most of them collect huge annual subventions from their states that are not properly accounted for; they sell the club’s players and pocket the international transfer fees or pay  themselves hefty commissions; yet they fail to meet the most basic welfare needs of their teams.  While most of us are complaining year after year that the Nigerian league is dying, these club managers are laughing all the way  to the bank.

Irabor’s committee is not perfect neither are all their  actions totally infallible. Some of their reforms are controversial and may be hard to swallow. But these reforms must go on and only a neutral body like the LMC can carry  them out. The previous “league boards” constituted by so-called “club owners” could not change the system because they were benefitting from the rot. They must not be allowed to scuttle the change that is coming.

And just to clarify the status of “club owners/managers,” the majority of them are really not “club owners” but “managers”. Most Nigerian league clubs are public property because they are financed with public funds. The real “owners” of the clubs therefore are the people of the owner-states that provide the funding for the running of these clubs. And that is you the reader, me and everybody else. We are all stakeholders in this affair.

Let’s Salute Mitchel O!

NIGERIA’s Mitchel Obi was last week elected unopposed as President of the (international sports journalists body) AIPS for Africa at the elections held in Sochi, Russia. It was a reflection of Mitchel’s popularity that three other candidates from Congo, Senegal and Morocco stepped down for him and his entire executives to be elected by consensus. By virtue of his position as president, AIPS Africa, Mitchel will now sit on the AIPS Executive Board as one of the (international) Vice Presidents.

With the Super Eagles reigning as African champions and Mitchel ruling as president of AIPS Africa, how nice would it have been had NFF president Alhaji Aminu Maigari also made it to the CAF executive committee. Not to worry, our target next time is the CAF presidency itself. Congrats, Mitchel O!


  1. Mumini, after your Soccer Talk of last week, I wanted to make a quick response so i used your "mute" phone number meant for sms ONLY. I sent my comment severally but it kept bouncing back. What is the importance of providing a medium of communication that can not serve that purpose? This is unlike you. This is very un-Mumini.
    I said in my comment that you never got last week that I TOTALLY agree with your view on the present class of the Eaglets. I can not agree even more now.
    As for the Manchester United winning the EPL this season, congratulations to them. I agree with you that they deserve it on the basis of consistency. The other clubs in the EPL including "the noisy neighbours" were very very poor this season. The other "big' club failed to CONTEND for the EPL title but instead were content to just compete. The kept either losing or drawing matches they should ordinarily have won or grind out results.
    The happenings in our local league and in extension the Super Eagles set up is a reminder so soon of the warning you gave with regard to success management. If care is not taken Nigeria may just kiss Brazil 2014 goodbye. The many quarrels that are coming up- between Stephen Keshi and players on the one hand then between Keshi and his employers- are not good for our football. We have forgotten that the Super Eagles are bad travelers. Coincidentally our next two matches in the world cup qualifiers are away to Kenya and Namibia. The situation unfolding with those entrusted with the responsibility of taking us to the world cup is not encouraging. A stitch in time saves nine. The warring parties must put their swords down for a conducive atmosphere to reign.

    Howard Odigie (Lagos).

  2. Oga Mumuni.
    Perhaps I need education on how a newly inaugurated league body is unable to launch a fresh league competition, and thus in effect, effectively insulating itself from the cess-pool that was the previous product.
    History teaches that re-branding a league means - well - RE-BRANDING A LEAGUE.
    That entails installing a completely new product : New Name (Title), New Administration, New Rules & Regulations, and so on.
    Reforms are then effectively introduced in Terms & Conditions, for which participating clubs must be required to fulfill.
    With the backing of the NFF and NSC, where then is the problem?
    Not effectively re-branding the league means the Irabor-led committee is fishing in the same cess-pool as the previous league bodies.
    And whipping into line mutinous club-owners isn't going to make the league grid-lock disappear.

  3. Psstt!
    I'm not enthralled by Mitchel Obi's recent appointment.
    This - and many others - has become, in my opinion, an unwanted tradition.
    Must be a testament to the hostile climate of Nigerian sports-writing, that there has been a steady migration of our best hands from the editorial room to the administrative suite.
    Ah, the short-comings of a developing economy...
    Its a loss of some sort whenever an accomplished journalist crosses over to administration.
    Any wonder our sports journalism has retrogressed.
    Accomplished sports journalists give sports a voice.
    The lack of enough respected voices has in no small measure also contributed to the stunted development of our sports.
    Ah, the days of Sunny Ojeagbase, Chris Okogie, Ikeddy Isiguzo, Mitchel Obi, Paul Bassey, Dave Enechukwu, Mumuni Alao, etc etc

  4. I want to comment on two items you listed. Man-u won the league. Good, but they need to bring in some players to cover for Ferdinand and Vidic. They also need somebody like Suarez (yes o. I'm very serious) to partner AVP upfront. As for Man city, they just need to sack Mancini and bring in Malaga coach. Man-man, position-position man city beat man-u but with this Italian coach on board, man-u will be making yanga all seasons. Suarez bite someone is no news. It is just the english papers making noise. What Andy Carol did to manu goal keeper is worse than a bite. What other players have done and doing in EPL are worst off but no shouts. Do you know that a chile player held suarez private part recently in a qualifying match but when he reacted it was the reaction that english papers carry? Let suarez go to manu and the grandfatherly man will take good care of him. He will even improve more. Suarez need a better club like manu, barca, r.madril, b.munich, ac milan. He has outgrown liverpool just as he outgrew ajax.

  5. The article Alh. Mumuni wrote on the Eaglets was spot on and i grasped the meaning first time. The emphasis on youth competitions should normally be developmental, as properly depicted by the emergence of Maradona(1979),Messi,Zabaleta,Di Maria,Mikel,Taiye Taiwo(2005), Saidu Kaita, Yobo(1999), Mario Gotze,Isco, Kenneth Omeruo, Onayi Ogenzi(2009)- through various youth Competitions. I tried to attach some Nigerian players so that we can have some sense of belonging, even if just. The situation will be different however with the present Eaglets because just like Mumini pointed out, they have shown enough promise to be tagged 'special' and so we expect most of them to be the future stars of the game and take Nigeria to the pinnacle of world football

    Congrats Man U. victory gotten on the back of four offside gaols(1 against West Ham, 3 against A. Villa)- all by RVB, yet the English press are keeping mute. Based on that, I agree completely with the last writer, Saurez will be better protected at Man. U(the god father will see to that)

  6. Nigerian team has proved that they are best in African continent -