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The Dilemma Of NPFL Coaches

Posted: Jun 20, 2015 at 12:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Steve Oma-Ofozor  –  Lagos


In recent times coaching in Nigeria at the top flight of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) is becoming a dilemma as the profession is gradually losing its pride going by the seeming inhuman treatment that is often met on the coaches.

In less than 12 weeks into the new season that still have 26 games to go four clubs, Heartland Football Cub of Owerri, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan, Enugu Rangers International Football Club and Bayelsa United Football Club of Yenagoa have sacked their coaches.

The casualties in this recent wind of sack are Erasmus Onuh, Heartland; Franklyn Howard, 3SC; Kelechi Emeteole, Rangers and Solomon Ogeide, Bayelsa.

The reason as usual is obvious, poor performance and nothing more. Such reason of course is enough ground to sack any coach in any clime as the game is business and no person/group would want its team to go down from the elite division to the lower league.

However, the dilemma of the coaches is that as much as they need a job to keep body and soul together, they accept any offer.

The condition of which service is only fantastic on paper, but never tangibly realistic is ok by them as they work under pressure and more as a slave at the end of the day.

Many a time coaches are said to have been contracted for a particular NPFL club for a mouthwatering amount of between N4-5 million, but the coach never gets a dime until the contract expires.

Coaches as Christian Chukwu, Lawrence Akpokona, Monday Odigie, Godwin Izilein, Austin Eguavoen just to mention a few were all victims and are still alive to testify to this fact.

Sadly, not even legal actions have helped the pathetic predicament of the coaches if they are arbitrarily sacked as they don’t even have the resources to face the battle that may never be won in the Nigerian setting.

In a chat during the week with one of the sacked coaches mentioned earlier who pleaded anonymity also he said, “NPFL coaches only enjoyed being within than without a job, salary or no salary.”

According to him, “Let me tell you, we should think of the players who play with empty stomach first before the coaches. So, if the owners of the club don’t care about the players’ welfare, who is the coach,” he queried.

It is most pathetic that 98% of the clubs are owned by the state governments and they have not even been able to pay the salaries of the civil servants, so they see the football clubs as tools to facilitate political campaigns.

The above impression experts say have accounted hugely for the reasons state governments will never allow private individuals to take over the clubs for efficient management.

According to reports, Howard left 3SC with the players being owed six months. This implied that the coach too would have been owed same number of months and could have left without benefits.

Sadly, these coaches will never speak out for fear of being sacked even in suffering. Thus, a certain coach handling one of the leading NPFL clubs still under anonymity revealed that he was in bondage.

“I tell you, I’m in bondage. I don’t just know whether to quit the job or stay put. Please don’t quote me. For the past six months I have not been able to send my wife any kobo for the upkeep of the family and she believes I’m working.”

In developed environments, when a coaches is sacked he/she is paid all entitlements, but the reverse is the case in Nigeria where it is without any benefit.

Unfortunately, the Caches Association of Nigeria has remained a toothless bulldog, rather than the interest group that it is supposed to be in defense of its members.

Thus, it has often been argued that the association should be able to make a firm policy statement on the welfare and securities of its members to enable them regain their relevance that seemed to have been lost.