Agents of Change - National Review congratulates

Why Only Football

Sunday, 29 November 2015 00:00 Written by

Lukmon Adedoyin writes that other sports that have proven to possess the potentials to give Nigeria more laurels deserve better attention than they are accorded, compared to football.

Homeless World Cup

Wednesday, 30 September 2015 00:00 Written by

The first Homeless World Cup took place in 2003 in Graz, Austria, and the game has been changing lives ever since. The annual tournament brings together street football programs from around the world, each representing their respective nation with passion and pride.

Each year, homeless people who were invisible on the streets become heroes on the pitch and standing proud representing their countries, their lives are changed forever.

Since Graz 2003, the flagship event has grown in terms of scale, impact and geographical reach. Host cities to date include Gothenburg, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Cape Town, Melbourne, Milan, Rio de Janeiro, and Paris. Amsterdam announced was the 13th city to host the annual Homeless World Cup.

The Homeless World Cup football tournament has its own special rules.

The fast-paced games are 4-a-side and played in two halves of seven minutes each, with a one minute break for halftime. Women’s and men’s teams compete for separate cups—however women can play on the men’s teams. Each team consists of up to eight players, four of which—three field players and one goalie—are on the court at a time.

·         Players can only compete in a single Homeless World Cup tournament.

·         During tournament play, winning teams receive three points; losing teams receive none.

·         There are no ties; if a match ends in a draw, it is decided by a sudden-death penalty shootout.

·         In matches decided by a penalty shootout, the winning team gets two points and the losing team gets one point.

·         The pitch is 22 meters long by 16 meters wide. The goal is four meters wide by 1.3 meters tall. The penalty area is a four meter half circle.

·         A size five ball is used.

Match day 4 - Game Changer for 14/15 Season

Tuesday, 30 June 2015 00:00 Written by

The 2014/2015 Premier League season in Nigeria is shaping up to be a season of surprises and unpredictability. This is evident in the renewed interest and surge by fans to see more games live and direct.

Although it may be too early to call the season's leaders and losers, a sterling point was driven home early by match day 4, which has never been seen in the results of the League's season. What happened? One may ask. The answer revolves around wonderful results on the road by teams, home victories and draws which were not pyrrhic in nature at all, erring officials sanctioned and rightly so, as well as players that went overboard with joy, facing the music.

As a necessary digression therefore, it was a week that most followers of the league likened to a change that the nation needed urgently. More so, the overwhelming victory of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, president-elect, is not only seen as an epitome of change in our nation's history and the nation's football population, who wants our football to be in that realm too, but also a roadmap for the complete overhaul of the systemic running of the game
Now to the miracles of Match day 4; the doom and gloom around the league was shattered as a result of some steps rigorously and genuinely put in place, as well as monitored for successful implementation by the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF and the League Management Company, LMC.

First, Dolphins FC loss to Sunshine Stars FC in Akure in what was seen as a result of deliberate poor officiating, resulting in the referees' committee of the NFF suspending until the end of the current season, referee John Charles and assistant referee Ogunta Matador, for their roles in the scandalous performance. Moreso, two Sunshine Star players who over celebrated outside the rule of the game were each suspended for a league match and fined N50, 000 respectively.

Coach Stanley Eguma of Dolphins was sanctioned for comments “not palatable” to the growth of the game, and therefore fined N100, 000 by the LMC for his comments to the media after the match in Akure.

Wikki Tourists FC went to Umahia, pounding Abia Warriors FC in their own backyard as their coach, Abdul Maikaba returned to Bauchi undisturbed after the match.

The officials too were not intimidated or harassed by the usual unabatedly partisan Abia fans and supporters.
3SC of Ibadan stole one point on the road from Lafia, a point that has kept the team's coach Franklin Howard as the man still in Charge of the Oluyole Warriors.

Heartland FC travelled to Ilorin and hammered Kwara Utd by 3 goals to 1, prompting the club to apologize to its publics for the NPFL loss, specifically targeting its vocal fans and supporters not to “lose confidence in the team.” How the supporters accepted that will be a case study, given their known temperament and attitude in the past when the team did not do well.

In Makurdi, Lobi Stars FC failed to bank on home support to beat Sharks FC at the Aper Aku Stadium. So far, Lobi Stars FC has not won a premier league match in the current season. This must be a deep concern for the Dominic Iorfa led management team.

As if match day 4 was a floodgate of away victories, Abia Warriors went to Owerri in local derby to beat Heartland FC in Match day 5. Sunshine stars came, saw and conquered at the Imo capital when the Akure Gunners battered coach Erasmus Onu's tutored side 3-0 in Match day 7. FC Taraba was not left out in getting points on the road. This the team did in Port Harcourt and Uyo in style. Enyimba FC went to Jalingo and got 3 points against FC Taraba.
While getting these results, it is good to note that Match day 4 was the start of LMC's Best Referees Award; a weekly means of monitoring the performance of top-flight referees by seasoned referees' assessors and outstanding referees for the week.

Better still, indemnities of match officials are now better than before, and are paid upfront before matches. Also, the old ways of putting the fate of match officials in the entire hands of club officials is fading fast. I am sure other measures are firmly in place by the league operators in making the officials comfortable to go for a match, and make 50/50 calls at venues without fear or favor.

One important development that is worth mentioning is the turnaround effort by the wise and smarter clubs in the league. For them, getting up close and personal with fans and supporters has reduced the gap of misunderstanding that hitherto takes center stage in the scheme of things in managing the clubs.

Interestingly however, it will be fun to see how the home fans and supporters of teams, who are used to winning away from home or stealing points on the road, will now react and respond to a home defeat or loss.

With such reactions, one can rightly say that the teaming supporters or fans of our clubs are accepting the fact that in football, you win some, you lose some and you draw some, and heaven must not fall when the result of a league match does not go the way the fans want it, home or away.

Quadri Aruna flagged off his journey to stardom on the streets of the Old Oyo Town, where he engaged his peers on street corners in the ping-pong game.
Born on the 9th August, 1988, the Nigerian tennis star player represented Nigeria at the 2012 Olympic Games, where he defeated a Spanish player, before being knocked out.

The Civil Defense officer said the lack of aggressive grassroots development programmes is responsible for the dwindling fortune of table tennis on the African continent.

Quadri, after being shown the exit at the 2012 Olympics, said "Athletes from Europe, Asia and other continents start from the grassroots, which is not the case in Africa. And for Nigeria and Africa to win medals at the Olympics, there must be proper grassroots sports development, which will teach the basics and techniques of the game when the athletes are still young."

Quadri, who is married to a female table tennis player, emerged the ITTF 2014 star player of the year and ranked 30 by the governing body.
Citing who is his hero, he cited Nigeria's most celebrated Table Tennis player Atanda Musa.

Oshoala: Nigeria's New Football Heroine

Sunday, 01 February 2015 00:00 Written by

She dropped out of school to pursue a career in soccer, though this infuriated her parents, Lagos state born Asisat Oshoala is reaping the dividends of doggedness, and being committed to her dreams.

Now with a national honour, CAF award and several trophies in her kitty, the lanky Super Falcons forward is the undisputed Nigerian football heroine.
When conferred with the honour Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Asisat Oshoala dedicated the national honour to her parents and teammates in the Falconets and Super Falcons.

Reacting after the recognition from the Nigerian government, she said, “It's my second time having a handshake with the President and I am really happy about it, because there are a lot of Nigerians out there wishing to just see him, not to talk of having a hand shake with him. Having this second opportunity to shake hands with him, I am really happy about it, and I know it is the grace of God at work in my life. For me it's a dream come true.”

“I dedicate the award to God Almighty Allah, who has kept and been with me ever since I started playing football up to this moment. I also dedicate the award to my parents and my family, who are always praying for me. I also thank my teammates, especially the U-20 girls, who enabled me to score those goals that gave me the award, not forgetting teammates in Super Falcons and my previous and present team FC Robo and Rivers Angels. I also thank my coaches, who have trained me and made me what I am right now. To my fans and everyone I say thank you”.

Asisat Lamina Oshoala, MON, was born on the  9th October, 1994. She is a home- based soccer player plying her trade with Rivers Angels, Port Harcourt, in the deep southern part of Nigeria.

Oshoala emerged the best player and highest goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. Similarly, she emerged the highest goal scorer of the Super Falcons team, which won the 2014 African Women's Championship.

Oshoala became a household name in Nigerian football, owing to her sterling display in Nigeria's female youth teams. She is fondly referred to as “Seedorf" after AC Milan male footballer, Clarence Seedorf

National Team Laurels Asisat Won
•    African Women's Championship Winner: 2014
•    FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Runner-up: 2014

Individual awards
•    African Women's Footballer of the Year: 2014
•    African Women's Youth Player of the Year: 2014
•    FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Golden Boot: 2014
•    FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Golden Ball: 2014

2014/2015 NPFL Pre-Season Super 4 Invitational

Sunday, 01 February 2015 00:00 Written by

Current development in the nation's football has received a boost with the ongoing Super Four tournament in Abuja. More so with the injection of two national teams namely; the dream team-Nigeria's U-23 team and the U-20 team. These two national teams in addition to the four clubs that topped the just concluded Premier League season have no doubt given a new dimension to the tournament. The clubs include; Kano Pillars which won the league back to back, Enyimba FC, Dolphins and Warri Wolves.

Kano Pillars FC players

The implication of this arrangement is that while Kano Pillars and Enyimba FC will represent Nigeria in the CAF championship League, Dolphins and Warri Wolves will fly Nigeria's flag in the CAF Confederation Cup this year.

Therefore, determined to improve the performances of the six teams in the various assignments ahead, the football authorities, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), and the League Management Company (LMC) strongly feel that the Super Four will be an opportunity to prepare the Samson Siasia led U-23 team for the All Africa Games qualifiers as well as for the Olympic games scheduled for 2016 in the city of Rio, Brazil. In the same vein, it will further enhance the performance of the U-20 team tutored by Coach Manu Garba who is equally preparing his side for the world youth championship in Chile this year.

Hence, both coaches and other stakeholders view the Super Four as a strong platform for their teams to face stiffer challenge and opposition which is widely seen as a chance to improve, overcome and eventually dominate the global stage. For the U-23, Samson Siasia and his technical crew led by Fatai Amao, know full well that there are no minnows in African football, more so that Nigerians will not expect less than an outright representation given our disappointing show and eventual exit from the AFCON competition currently going on in Equatorial Guinea.

On his part, coach Manu Garba must not take anything for granted given that the boys currently in the U-20 camp were his boys back then in the victorious U-17 squad. He must therefore leverage on the smooth transition of some heroes of the team. Again, pride and laxity must not be seen to be an obstacle to the success of the team which are already losing confidence in the eyes of their fans following the ousting of the Super Eagles from the AFCON tournament in Malabo.

In the quest to see to all of these, they have been paired with the four best clubs in the nation's Premier League. In the first set of matches played on Saturday the 27th of January, results recorded Kano Pillars defeating Dolphins 2-0, while the U-20 team washed Enyimba FC 2-0. Also, the fraction of the dream team led by Fatai Amao defeated Warri Wolves 3-1, while the other unit of the U-23 team that went to Tunisia for a full legged friendly with their Tunisian U-23 counterpart defeated their Nigerian counterpart 5-3.

Although, the traditional set up of the Super Four is to pair the four teams that topped the league with the four teams that got promoted from the lower division, some have always believed that it is a waste of time and effort. With this year's mundial making an inclusion of the two national teams, Nigerians are beginning to see the possibilities and probabilities of glory and failure in future permutations. Moreso, it makes a lot of sense to see that the four clubs representing Nigeria in the CAF clubs' games will have enhanced preparations given that the league season of 2014/2015 will not resume until March this year.

By implication therefore, the Super Four has provided a platform for both technical and tactical upgrade, better opportunity to meet up opponents from other countries whose leagues may have kicked up already. In addition, coaches of the participating clubs such as Okey Emordi of Kano Pillars, Kadiri Ikanna of Enyimba FC, Paul Aigbogun of Warri Wolves and Veteran coach Stanley Eguma will no doubt leverage on the challenges of the Super Four to edge out their opponents when the chips are down in the CAF showdown.

On a larger scale, the beauty of this tournament for the clubs is that some players in the game have been drawn from the senior national team. Players like Kano Pillars safe hands, Theophilus Afelokai and Warri Wolves goal keeper, Daniel Akpeyi. These all went to Dubai to do their nation proud in the friendly played against Ivory Coast and Yemen. More surprising is the displeasure and dissatisfaction expressed by coach Manu Garba in the 2-0 defeat of Enyimba FC by his boys in the ongoing Super Four.

As at press time, match day one recorded a total of 7 goals, with Nigerians waiting for the big one between the two national teams. This excitement in football is offered only by the Super Four organised by the Nigeria professional League (NPL) with the League Management Company (LMC).