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Wanted: Nigerian football museum – Part 2

By Tony Afejuku
22 October 2021   |   2:58 am
Let me allow you to enter my column today by way of revising a remark I made last Friday with reference to Daniel Okwudili. Daniel Okwudili was not a product of Amukpe Football Club of Sapele.

[FILES] Pinnick. Photo: TWITTER/THENFF

Continued from yesterday

Let me allow you to enter my column today by way of revising a remark I made last Friday with reference to Daniel Okwudili. Daniel Okwudili was not a product of Amukpe Football Club of Sapele. He was a product of Warri Football Club in the early sixties. He was discovered in Warri from where he played for the Green Eagles as a right inside forward. He was a product of Hussey College, Warri. Much, much earlier he was a product of Sacred Heart, a Catholic Primary School in Warri where his football stretched out to Hussey College.

Mr. Amaju Pinnick may not know it now, but after all, is said or written or recorded after his precious or not precious time or tenure or period as chairman of the Nigeria Football Federation his wondrous legacy that will remain his wondrously permanent legacy is the football museum being canvased here and now. If he can do this if he does this if he establishes this museum we shall hail him to the high heavens of Nigerian football. And we shall do so by importing from Australia specially and meticulously well-bred wonga-wongas to celebrate him and the historic institution.

But the envisaged football museum is not to be seen as a mere wood lot or bush lot. It is envisaged as an institution of a great historical record of great success for our football project of sound intellectual merit. The staff to run and man it shall be the right caliber staff especially at the senior category or senior level to engage in adequate research of pure beauty to stand and watch over our football not as its police or sheriff but as its keeper and researcher of records. Sportswriters and chroniclers, football essayists and academic football writers and chroniclers and academic and non-academic football anthropologists shall be engaged by the museum to go back into the deep past to straighten, straighten out and straighten up our football in all ramifications right from the deep past, I repeat, up to the present time. Mr Amaju Pinnick should intellectualize our football.

Who and who did this or that for Nigerian football and at what time, or at what period as players, official referees, ball boys/girls, as proprietors or proprietresses or as philanthropists, etc.? Can we get their pictures or murals or drawings or images as mementos to encourage present players and lovers of our football to be real football patriots of Nigerian football? Who were and are current heroes and heroines of Nigerian football? What historical and patriotic projections can be made for those who are rightly visible now and who definitely are not going to be visible tomorrow but whose legacies should (and must) be recorded and kept alive for posterity? These and several other issues I don’t wish to mention here now for strategic reasons and considerations should receive the beautiful and expansive attention of Mr. Amaju Pinnick and members of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) he leads. In fact, Mr. Amaju Pinnick and the Federal Minister of Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, the equally youthful sports administrator, should sit down and rub minds over my modest proposal, which should be in the capital heart of their respective football and sports hearts.

Now I should steer my readers to the foreign football port that inspired me to feel for Nigerian football as I have lovingly felt for it to the extent that I am hereby dreaming for it the need for Mr. Amaju Pinnick to erect a museum for it.

My reader from across the Atlantic Ocean (who pointed out my Daniel Okwudili error) drew my football heart and mind to a black football “trailblazer” who “helped transform how football was placed” in Scotland and in England. The name of this black “trailblazer” was Andrew Wilson. He was born in Guyana in the West Indies of a very wealthy Scottish father (who made hay in Guyana) and a black slave mother. He was bred to become an English gentleman and made his great or iconic mark as a highly famed footballer who captained Scotland and was widely acknowledged as a fabulously fabulous Scottish footballer that led Scotland as its football captain to demolish England 6-1 “on his debut in 1881.”

Andrew Watson has gone into history as the “world’s first black international, but for more than a century the significance of his achievement went un-recognised” on account of racism. Research of three decades has rescued him from oblivion and obscurity. A significant and well-underlined description of him and Pele, the black and world football pearl of pearls, goes thus: “There are murals of black footballers facing one another across an alleyway in Glasgow. One helped football as we know it, the other is Pele.” Watson’s biography is very, very rich in every respect, but I am primarily concerned here with his football exploits. In his second match against England (not long after the first) he led Scotland to beat England 5-1 convincingly. This second heavy defeat compelled the English Football Association to change England’s football approach thanks to Andrew Watson who “assumed the role of Scotch Professor and taught his English peers “the science” of a more dynamic passing style.” And here is the gem of gems:

“Pele was a genius footballer, but there are thousands of genius footballers whose influence dies with them the second they retire,” says Ged O’Brien, founder of the Scottish Football Museum.

“You can look at any game of football being played anywhere in the world – by any person of any gender or ethnicity or culture and the ghost of Andrew Watson will be looking down on you because they are playing his game.

“Watson is the most influential black footballer of all time. There is nobody that comes close.”

Many persons may accept almost everything in this quotation with a pinch of salt. But one thing is clear: Andrew Watson is today a living subject brought to our fading football consciousness by the Scottish Football Museum. This remark should enter well and well the key of Mr. Amaju Pinnicks’s Nigerian football administration, impression and pleasure – meaning that positive thoughts about giving us Nigeria Football Museum should start raining forth in profusion from him.

I must end this second division of my subject – before my conclusion – with what the Scottish Football Museum’s historians, researchers and academics also further brought to light about Andrew Watson: “During his lifetime, Watson’s influence was felt across the game. He was a captain, a national cup winner, an administrator, investor and match official, each achievement and contribution made as the first black man to do so. Is Mr. Amaju Pinnick hearing me? Is Mr. Amaju Pinnick listening to this columnist? If he is not blocking his ears (and eyes), he should read well my lips: Don’t be satisfied with the pleasurable feeling of entering Nigerian football books as the first Itsekiri-Nigerian to be the chairman of our NFF and to be Nigeria’s representative in FIFA. He must make a mark that is a mark that is a legacy of legacies.

To be continued.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.