Now That Infantino Has Come And Gone | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Now That Infantino Has Come And Gone

Posted: Aug 2, 2016 at 2:20 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The recent visit of Gianni Infantino, President, Federation of International Football Association (FIFA)to Nigeria would definitely open a new vista for the country in global football. Indeed, despite her recent downturn in international football, Nigeria remains one of the important football countries, not just in Africa, but also in the world.
But the country’s football chiefs must now address the issues of infrastructure decay, grassroots development and corruption that have become an albatross to the growth of the game in the country.
Infantino had noted while in the country that his visit was part of his administration’s determination to address grassroots football development in the world,and Africa in particular. During his two- day working Visit to Nigeria, the FIFA boss reportedly observed that there were talents, potentials and a lot of passion for football in Nigeria, but advised the football authorities in the country to promote the game with a view to putting Nigeria in her pride of place in the world of football.
The FIFA President’s observation is apt. From fifth in 1994 to 70th in 2016 in world football ranking, no one is in doubt that the decline in the country’s football is partly attributed to the state of its infrastructure. A survey at the grassroots indicates that poor infrastructure is common among the states and local governments. In such a situation, how would the country discover, develop and nurture talents? Over the years, many stakeholders have expressed concern over inadequate centres for grassroots football development. But not much have been done in that respect. Even Infantino seemed to be aware of this, as he noted, “When it comes to football development in Nigeria, work needs to be done in organisational structures, setting up of training centres and better framework.”These are indeed fundamental to the development of the game. Obviously, sustainable strategic programmes need to be fashioned out to develop the game, especially from the grassroots. Perhaps, football authorities need to go back to the academicals that produced erudite players like Late Stephen Keshi and others. We believe that the relevance of Nigerian Football Federation(NFF) to the country’s football would be judged on how the football house is able to get this done.
Politics in NFF has taken the centre stage over and above the essence of football.As it were, we agree with analysts who aver that corruption in NFF is responsible for the total decline in Nigerian football. Indeed there seems to be a total lack of accountability and transparency in football management, which is inimical to the development of the sport in the country.
Of course now that Infantino has come and gone, we expect the Football Federation to cleanse itself of this cancer. In additon there should be an improvement in the interest of Corporate Nigeria in football development.
But ultimately, government must consider making the provision of facilities a top priority. Sport medicine, a branch of medicine that deals with physical fitness and the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise, must be developed. Scientific approach to coaching also needs to be developed.
A deliberate policy at developing and updating the knowledge of local coaches should be put in place. This would expose the coaches to modern way of coaching. When all these have been factored in and addressed, Infantino’s visit would have made an unprecedented impact.