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Now That The Pitch Is Over By Jide Olaniran

Sometime ago the Nigeria Football Federation called a press conference to announce that it is going to organize its own awards ceremony to recognize and reward excellence in the game. According to one of the executive members of the football body “The stock of Nigerian Football is on the upward trajectory” emphasis is mine.

. Super Eagles players in joyous mood after qualifying for 2018 World Cup

If you doubt that happy days are here in Nigerian Football check out the number of sponsorship deals that have been unveiled in the last five months, you will agree with me that it is business unusual-hope you got my drift -as more suitors are still expected to woo the rave of the moment.

Not because there is a substantial development happening to our football but because the Super Eagles have qualified for the World Cup-the last two Nations Cup Nigeria missed and other age group competitions missed in the last two years should lend credence to this assertion.

So, a World Cup qualification automatically translates into an “upward trajectory of stock” in our clime. Anyway, that is an issue for another day as I pen my reservation about the latest project of the football house; the NFF awards which I feel is a misplaced priority by a body that is yet to show that the devil is in the detail going by the way it conducts the administration of the game in the country.

The last time I checked there was an awards ceremony called The Nigeria Pitch Awards which is collaboration between the NFF and Matchmakers Consult; an annual event that has been running since 2013 which means it pre-dates the Amaju Pinnick assumption to office.

 Both parties I am sure have invested a lot into this project and one would expect that such relationship is founded on mutual trust and understanding, as well as a contractual obligation which must be respected but knowing what the World Cup year brings to the table and to the psyche of a man whose product has been deserted for long, your guess is as good as mine.

Although I was not at the press parley but I wondered what would have made the NFF to think that reinventing the wheel at this time of plenty is the best way to reward excellence. So, those years that the Nigeria Pitch Awards held in different states what were they rewarding? Mediocrity or maybe the NFF will have a better answer.

If the Nigeria Football Federation feels it is time to delve into the business of awards ceremony does it not behove the body to clear the air on a similar project it had a stake in? Or is the best practice in the Federation just to move on like no big deal- just as we have seen them moved on from the global embarrassment of using the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) owned football to execute a home game against our generous visitors.

Do we still have to remind the Federation that it is well over a month and the committee saddled with the responsibility of investigating the cause of the dereliction of duty that almost cost the nation her World Cup ticket is yet to submit its report?

Yes we’ll expect the Federation to expedite action on this rather than hurriedly putting together an awards night just to announce to the world that Nigerian football is out of recession.

I am sure this brain wave is an idea of somebody who just feels the body deserves to be at the driving seat rewarding, patronizing and massaging the egos of friends and political associates like we have seen with awards organised on the continent.

Looking at a paragraph in the statement released by the Federation after the media parley to unveil the awards:

“a screening committee that will have integrity, transparency and fairness as its watchwords would be empaneled in a few days, and that while some of the awards will be decided by the screening committee, others would be determined by voters online while the special awards would be the prerogative of the Federation”. I would say how feasible is it to put all these process together when it is just a few days to the said awards or we should wait for the eighth wonder.

The Nigeria Pitch awards already have a process that is verified by one of the best financial consulting firm in the country, so if you ask me I would say there is no point reinventing the wheels but what do I know, I am just a bloody journalist who should keep quiet when CAF/FIFA aficionados are having a brain wave.

We all know how FIFA and the organisers of Ballon d’Or ended their relationship without drama and speculation, so the NFF should do the right thing by informing the stakeholders of the current status of the Pitch Awards instead of employing a subtle way of ditching the project.

It is looking obvious that the last of the Nigeria Pitch awards might have been seen; apparently every man is for he – pecuniary interest before collective gratification, are you still wondering why our football is static? look no further.



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