With right people, honesty, dedication, greatness is achievable in football, says Laloko
“The performances of the country’s football teams call for a review of the way things are done, as the effort of our administrators has brought us nothing; look at the rating of the Eagles today by FIFA. The management of football in the past was well-organised; there was no discrimination irrespective of where the administrator came from.
“In the 60s, we had the Adebajo competition for secondary school students and several other age-grade competitions across the nation. That was when school sport was the focal point of talent discovery. I remember a player, called Godwin Igbionu, he was discovered at a school in Onitsha. He was a first class player by every standard. Several other good players too were spotted in other parts of the country.
“It was a beauty beholding some of these talents in schools then; players who had passion for the game, not for the love of money. But now, what efforts are our administrators making? They are busy encouraging competition among the students, rather than developing the game; sports should not be a do or die thing. We really need to go back to the basis, when we placed priority on development. And how did we experience some successes in our football in the past? It came from catching them young in schools. Some of these talents played for clubs and later appeared for the nation,” he said.
The former coach of the Gambia national team said there was nothing like the Under-17 or Under-21 teams then. “What he had were Academicals. These players were later selected for the senior national team. But today, everything has been misplaced; people who should look for these talents are busy chasing money. Those supposed to be games masters in schools are no longer interested in the job, preferring to be custom or immigration officers, where they can make money easily. Everything has really turned upside down.”
Speaking on the way forward, the Director of Pepsi Football Academy said there was need to go back to planning properly where developmental football was key. “I can recall the golden plan of 1960 by Germany that brought successes to them till today. It started with a big plan to resuscitate their football. This same plan has yielded good returns for them and much reason they pose a threat to any country they meet in any competition. This is the area where we need the service of Chief Adegboye Onigbinde. We should not wait until he dies before we start having books and seminars on his lofty ideas on developmental football.
“We need to be passionate about the game. And this passion should come from the players, the coaches and administrators. The youth teams should be for the development of our football, not winning at all cost, but the growth of our football.
“People with the knowledge of football should be saddled with the responsibility of running the game. Not an architect coming to learn on the job, who before he settles down is replaced by another person. That is exactly the kind of administrators we have today; they are young, but do not know anything. Many at times, we have seen illiterates running our leagues, with little or no knowledge about the job they are expected to perform. At the end of the day, all they do is take whatever money available to enrich themselves; run back to their states.