Aiteo Cup Serves Case in Point for Nigerian Football's Continued Neglect of its Roots

Published in Awa Football October 11 2018 font size decrease font size increase font size
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Katsina United’s brave fall on penalties, to Kano Pillars, in the semi-final of this year’s Aiteo Cup has a story in it, an unfancied northern side with an impressive (by our standards) youth system coming within only two games from continental football is worth talking about. But will we talk about it? Do we ever talk about how what happens in our football?

It’s a continuous cancer that eats up at our game, and this year’s federation cup only serves as one of the effects, another evidence in a long list of incriminating metaphorical documents that show why and how our football is lacking. Nobody has any interest in it, nobody wants to be interested in it, and nobody wants to interest us in it; so club football in Nigeria just goes past, like the most redundant extra in a movie set.

So, who’s to blame? Who bears the brunt of culpability over this increasing shitshow that is our game? Perhaps the most Nigerian thing about our football is the fact that no one will take responsibility, or be held accountable, so we let the mediocrity and haphazardness drift on.

Who’s to blame? The league body, because it’s more than happy to schedule two semi-finals in the same day (Rangers’ win over Nasarawa in the second semi also took place on the same day), at noon as well. The league body, because it moves league games to Monday mornings. The league body, because it cancels games set to be played on Easter holidays and reschedules them for the first working day after, because the fans they’re meant to attract won’t work to pay to see games. The league body, because it keeps no information on its players whose most reliable source of income are paltry bonus fees over continental games. The league body, because its marketability is as awful as its football, its lack of palpable revenue generation does its best to put off any prospective owners lingering out there.

Who’s to blame? The federation, because it’s more interested in grabbing sponsor finances than the players and clubs. The league body, because it would rather focus on its elections, as if the national ones don’t bother and sicken us enough. The federation because there are supposedly no funds to release to the league, but there are funds to fight over.

Who’s to blame? The media, because we’re more interested in covering the administrative elections than what happens on the pitch. The media because you tune in to an hourly programme on the radio, supposedly dedicated to sports in the morning of the cup semi-finals, championed by those who bellow media patriotism in your face, but you get nothing on the cup semi-finals until the programme’s final three seconds. The media because the said-renowned sports newspaper in the country doesn’t give a hoot and a half about the cup, that’s supposedly prestigious and reputable in nothing but name these days. The media because the only television that gives the league a lick apparently can’t tell a razor blade from a cutlass.

Who’s to blame? The country, because these days everything going on is a microcosm of its state. The country because we’d rather design supposedly indigenous brands in Asia. The country because its economy makes being a match-goer so ridiculously fanciful, its bashed in whatever scale of preference it falls in. Support the NPFL on Twitter, but do nothing nowhere else.

Are there solutions to these problems? Obviously. Are we ever going to talk about and get to the point of applying them? Don’t be absurd.

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