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‘How Nigeria can produce quality coaches for national teams’

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Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu wants the government to set up a group of experts in a different sport to monitor athletes both home and abroad from primary school to the tertiary institutions. He also suggested that former players and athletes, who want to coach in the various national teams should be made to go through a transitional programme that will prepare them for the task.

“Any ex-international who wants to become a coach in Nigeria should be taken through a certain transitional programme that will prepare him or her for the task,” Adelabu told The Guardian yesterday. “A situation whereby we just assume anyone who played professional football abroad can automatically become Nigeria national coach shows how shallow-minded we approach the issue of national significance.”

Adelabu, who played for the then IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan in his active days says the issue of who handles the national teams should not give Nigerians sleepless night anymore if we can just adjust or incline our administrative focus in the direction that recognizes excellence as a catalyst for national development.

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“I observed that our federations are oblivious of the national objectives and are in total disrespect for human capacity building and also operate as battlegrounds for political and ethnic supremacy with the inactive umpire at the centre. Let me enumerate how we can approach this next level slogan in our sport.

“I can proudly say that we are naturally endowed with great sportsmen and women who need very little input from any coach to perform. I have seen great players and coaches in this country and I think I have sufficient intelligence to speak on how good they are. I will try not to deviate from my original line of thought i.e. “Transitional programme,” he said.

Speaking further, Adelabu, a sport scientist said: “The fact that many of us participated in sport does not automatically qualify us to be good administrators or coaches, otherwise that will be a mockery of the need for quality sports education that will help us to organize our thoughts and ideas in pragmatic ways.

“In the past, we have had sportsmen and women in positions of authority in this country and if they had done well, it would have been difficult for the politicians to gate crash into our sports administration and even determine who should coach our teams.”

He suggested that the government should set up a group of experts in a different sport and allow them to monitor our athletes both home and abroad from primary school to the tertiary institutions. “That is why the staff in the sports ministry should be audited to get rid of the irrelevant ones. The state sports council should also be cleansed. We have to streamline the various school sport competitions that are aimless and regulate sporting activity at the developmental stage.

The government should ban any Nigerian company advertising foreign players or clubs here in Nigeria or abroad. Any Nigeria TV or Radio progamme spending more than two minutes on foreign sport should be banned. These foreign media don’t talk about our sport but look at us ridiculously celebrating them on our Facebook and social media and yet our sport keeps nosediving into mediocrity every day.

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“Look at the video recordings of our league matches and compare it with that of South Africa. Look at the quality. What is wrong with us?”

Adelabu stated that a lot of our coaches need training especially on communication (the power of transfer of spirit of knowledge and understanding) which they never grew up with when they were developing in the country. “They have to go through what I call, the Pedagogy of Coaching; which is coaching the Coach to coach. The only thing that can humble a Nigerian coach easily is an encounter with what he thinks he knows against what he needs to know. We have been producing players who use more strength than intelligence because we want the coach to see that we are working hard.

“Also, I observed that right from my playing days, a lot of our athletes were very difficult to handle in their active days. That is one of the reasons why the transfer of knowledge (learning) was never our strength as a nation in the sport. I am not saying athletes have to be perfect, but we need to be disciplined to a reasonable level.

“We know players who may not train adequately but the coach must field. The sad thing is that such players often performed. So where is the coaching effect? That is why any carpenter as a coach (according to late Stephen Keshi) can succeed in Nigeria. Our athletes will perform under any condition especially when you have written them off and their allowances have been spent thinking they cannot win.

“Most of the players that come back from abroad and struggle to handle the national teams here in Nigeria are not recognized where they played unless they go through a transitional programme that they may not be able to pass. After all, in the USA and other countries, they were only allowed to handle school children despite their great professional careers. Why? How come and we make them an automatic choice for the nation.

He further stated: “I am not saying they have to pass the transitional programme, but they must go through it to increase their knowledge and to guide them against any form of assumptions to the detriment of the mental health of the athletes. This is not a programme that will be full of academic jargons, but that which will identify with the skills and techniques of the game, interpretations of experiences as a player using adequate technical languages to develop unique template they will work with and modify as they come in contact with various challenges. We need to develop our own Nigerian made football.

“We focus too much on mistakes rather than empowering our athletes through their mistakes. This concept has to change. In football, we need to understand the interrelationships between, game plan, the personality of the players, positional demands and the competitive atmosphere (What is at stake). It is time for us to find our place in the world of sport, Adelabu stated.

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