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Who Will Resurrect Nigerian Football? by @batundemusic

It is a fact today that individuals, not football clubs, in Nigeria are the ones who have football academies.

At his first press conference after being hired as the coach of the Super Eagles, Sunday Oliseh said the Eagles lacked outstanding and individually talented players who can be the reference or metronome of the team. He said the best strategy was to build a unit, a team built on hard work and collectivity.

A keen look at Nigerians playing home and abroad reveals there is a lack of high quality and talented players to lift the Eagles. One can count on one hand Nigerian players in top clubs of the top 5 leagues (EPL,la Liga, Ligue 1,Serie A,Bundesliga) in Europe. Even the few who make this grade are bench warmers - players not good enough to make the first eleven of their respective clubs.

There is a lack of hunger,drive and ambition among Nigerian players to compete and be among the elite of world football. Since the legendary squads of '94 - 96 and finally the squad that played to the final of Nigeria-Ghana 2000 AFCON, the Super Eagles have been on decline.

This is where the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has to step in. Our local league has recorded significant improvements - sponsorship, TV coverage, better welfare for players,clubs and officials. Yet there is more that needs to be done for the total revival of Nigerian football.

The NFF has to come up with a plan, a vision, a blue print with a long term framework (10 - 15 years) for Nigerian football. This writer proposes a plan to make football clubs especially the ones in the top division, central to grassroot football. It is a fact today that individuals, not football clubs, in Nigeria are the ones who have football academies.

This is not good for our football because the clubs should have academies. They are the ones with the structure, the platform and advantage to develop our football. Something is fundamentally wrong when clubs don't have academies. The NFF plan must insist that clubs across divisions in Nigerian football have academies. The NFF will provide incentives such as partial fuding and all other types of support to encourage ‎this.

Football club academies are more effective than individual/personal academies. The development of the players across all levels is better monitored and structured. There is more hope of the players getting to play in our league or making it abroad or even into our age grade national teams.

The curriculum can be structured, leagues and competitions can be created for the different age cadres to sustain the development of the players. This initiative will start bearing  fruits for our‎ football in few years also help reduce age cheating in our football. It will be a conveyor belt for producing talents and quality players for Nigerian football across all age grades.

The time to start is now.

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