“There is no rhythm or reason to the success we achieve in this part of the world.”
The stage was called “SWAN Platform”, a forum where top sports personalities are engaged in a no holds barred discourse. It has gone inactive for years now but for the intervention of a Port Harcourt based sports journalist, Ufuoma Egbamuno whose Foskolo Media Productions took the initiative to resuscitate it.
If you have ever seen or heard 1980 African Nations Cup winner, Adokiye Amiesimaka speak in any form – either formally or informally -, you would agree there was no better personality around to get the forum up again. Amiesimaka is the true definition of a proper Nigerian blessed with unmatched wealth of knowledge and multi-tasking experience. He is also a beacon of what Nigerians should be if the most populous African nation aspires to grow in the comity of nations.
He made his national team debut at 21 and some of his teammates as teenagers, he believes the extinction of quality sports facility and nursery structure which was available to them will make it difficult for youngsters to play for the national team now.
“There is no rhythm or reason to the success we achieve in this part of the world. During my time, I attended CMS Grammar school where we had facilities for Football, Athletics, Basketball, Hockey, Cricket, you name it. For a secondary school. Sports was a serious part of our education but now how many schools even have football fields?”
“Outside the regular school systems, you don’t have the structure. The so-called professional clubs we have ought to have their youth teams. They don’t have these. A whole range of challenges that we face are in our development scheme because we don’t have such scheme.”
Nigeria have won the Under-17 World Cup a record five times but have failed to replicate same at the Under-20 and senior level, a reason which Amiesimaka is not far-fetched as there is no clear cut structure set aside for the progression of players from the cadet level.
“Tell me one player in Europe – and I’m not even talking about Ronaldo or Messi – that does not have the history of playing age grade levels. They are there from as early as age six or seven. But we don’t have the patience here.
“If I am the NFF President, I know I cannot be. But I will tell Nigerians not to expect any trophy in six to seven years. We have to do things right, we need to develop both the structure and infrastructure for youth development. But Nigerians will reject the idea that they don’t need such person,” Adokiye emphasized.
Visible in the midst of Amiesimaka’s lamentation is a flowing passion for his fatherland and agitation for them to get it right. He has been there as an active athlete and administrator but the rot according him is so deep that it would take more than just one passionate soul to achieve.
“During my time as Sharks FC Chairman, I refused to bribe any referee and I stood my ground. I left when an unfair judgment from the then NFA was meted against our team and we took them to court. I found out that my people went behind my back to even lobby the NFA. The rot is that deep.”
The Chief Justice as he is fondly called since his undergraduate days has been portrayed as a rebel to many sports administrators in Nigeria due to his penchant for insisting on the right thing to be done but he believes if his views are always there to be verified from a neutral perspective.
“You judge as neutral parties and ask if what I’m saying is true or false? That is the only thing that needs to be done. So it’s not fair to say I don’t see anything good in football in Nigeria. I tend to be vocal when I see any wrong being perpetuated but I will ask them to always ask: Is it true or is it not true?,” he concluded.