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‘I will always advocate a Nigerian coach for Super Eagles’

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
05 February 2022   |   2:20 am
Nnaemeka Okwara, a United Kingdom-based trained football scout and Chief Executive Officer of Nao Sports Management Ltd. He opened up to IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA on how Nigerian football talents can leverage opportunities in the UK What are your thoughts about the performance of Super Eagles at AFCON in relation to the young talents in the team?…

Nnaemeka Okwara

Nnaemeka Okwara, a United Kingdom-based trained football scout and Chief Executive Officer of Nao Sports Management Ltd. He opened up to IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA on how Nigerian football talents can leverage opportunities in the UK

What are your thoughts about the performance of Super Eagles at AFCON in relation to the young talents in the team?
It is a beautiful thing to see young Nigerian talents coming through the ranks and giving the nation something beautiful at AFCON. The performance of Super Eagles was awesome with a five star performance in all three games especially the game against Egypt who happen to be the most successful nation at the AFCON with six titles to their cabinet. So it was wonderful. However these young players showed immense disciple and maturity by playing to the coaches’ instruction and not losing their heads, which is not easy to be honest. These young players showed heart, desire and ability to want to win which is massive mentality at any tournament, kudos to the young generation of Super Eagles.

What do you think about the emergence of Taiwo Awoniyi and Ihenacho who won tournaments as U-17 players?
It’s awesome to see players who played at maiden tourneys as boy now grown adult representing the country of their birth. That speaks a lot of volume it gives me that belief that we are heading for better days with our football. Also facts and stats tells us that they are the only two forwards who went to the tournament at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and that have continued as striking partners. You have to commend the recruitment team for scouting these immense talents in Kelechi and Taiwo.

What role has scouting played in the current generation of Super Eagles?
The scouting policy has played an enormous role and has given opportunity to Nigerian kids born abroad to immigrant Nigerian parents showcase their talents; the likes of Maduka Okoye, Toorst Ekong, Ola Aina amongst others. As a football scout myself, I know the immense impact these talents have made in the team. In addition, the scouting done back home at the grassroots level is also commendable. We need more of such scouting programmes so that eligible football talents of Nigerian heritage can partake and be discovered.

Are you a fan of using home-based coaches to lead the Super Eagles?
I have always and will forever be an advocate of a Nigerian coaching the Super Eagles; that would never change. Home-based Nigerian coaches have done well at the administrative level. They will do excellently in Europe given the right opportunity.
Sunday Oliseh, Amuneke Ndubisi Egbo and others all have the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) pro license, which is the biggest football badge, you can attain. This puts them in a position to apply for jobs in all top leagues in Europe. They are qualified with playing experience and they understand the demography of their country. It’s much easier to hire a Nigerian. Hiring a foregoing coach who doesn’t understand the demography, the culture, the people and sometimes language may create a barrier to the team’s success. Even in football management, ex footballers like Emmanuel Emenalo went as far being the technical director of football at Chelsea. He introduced the loan structure, which is helping Chelsea till today. Frank Lampard benefited from this initiative, which was created by Emenalo.

What is your role as a football agent?
My role as a football agent is to scout elite football talents then organise football programmes abroad with elite football academies in Europe so they can express their football talents in the presence of UEFA Pro License coaches at elite academies. These coaches then refer these players after a successful programme to the academy where they could be offered real football contracts.

As a football agent what does contract negotiations entail?
Contract negotiations involves a lot of clauses signed at professional stage of a player’s career usually handled by a professional sport advocates or professional football agent who explains the terms of the contact to the player. Some agents can negotiate for a player. In the contract, his client must make 70 per cent of club games if he is not injured. He gets amazing bonuses and wages. A certain commission is given to the agency for contract negotiations. Agents also help their client in investing their earnings; I am an advocate of having an amazing property portfolio for my client in tourist attractive locations in Europe such as Ibiza, Marbella, Mykonos, Venice and Monte Carlo.

What are your thoughts on the future of Super Eagles?
The future of the squad is amazing if they keep exposing themselves and getting better. Emmanuel Amuneke scouted players based on his football credentials and knowledge. Today, they are arguably the best in the team, the likes of Kelechi, Chukwueze and Awoniyi. It’s important for young Nigerians who are interested in football scouting to educate themselves and follow the footsteps of the ex-footballers. This will help develop our football.

Is England a good place for players drafted in the U-17 and U-21 to begin their careers?
England is an amazing place for Nigeria youngsters to start their football careers because of its inclusion policy for immigrants into the system, no language barriers, its multi-cultural and urban. The people are welcoming and not to forget the amazing training facilities. The country also possesses elite football clubs. Coming to England is a massive opportunity because players are always loaned to biggest leagues in Europe so the player can develop and still earn amazing wages.

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