By Ade Ojeikere
These are exciting times for Nigerian football and our soccer ambassadors, with Simon Moses highlighting the essence of having thriving nurseries in the country to identify, nurture and exposed budding stars to the international markets. The spiral effects of such noble initiatives are that with time Nigerian kids would be kissing the headlines of transfer deals with the second order European clubs, which is where Nantes FC belong on the roaster globally.
Jos, Edo, Delta, Kaduna, Kano and Lagos signpost the centres where kids played the game on dusty sometimes undulating surfaces in public schools’ soccer fields all through the day, with their parents unperturbed, knowing that they have one mouth less. Not forgetting the whips which would be unleashed on the bare backs of those kids who left home without permission to play the beautiful game. The pitches in Jos may not be good but the talents discovered have proven their mettle in Europe and everywhere else they have played. Jos pitches horned John Mikel Obi’s skills, although in his case he started as a goalkeeper, wearing short sleeves jersey, made popular by Imama Amamakpabo in Nigeria.
Simon Moses was born in Ribadu Cantonment, Kaduna, where he started playing for his area’s soccer team, Moderate FC, a team that also discovered and nurtured former Nigeria junior internationals such as Simon Zenke, Thomas Zenke, Macaulay Chrisantus and Usman Amodu.
Simon Moses was spotted by Jos based football tactician Ahmed Ibrahim a.k.a Coach Bros who took him to his team GBS FC in Jos. He trained with the Nigeria U-20 squad of 2013. He impressed the flying Eagles coaches, making the Nigerian side to the U-20 World Cup.
The story of Simon Moses and Nantes is quite interesting especially as the Nigerian joined the French side on loan. The Nigerian joined the Ligue 1 side on loan but his ‘Naija spirit’ of giving it everything paid off as he finished the season as the club’s Player of the Season. What was even more impression is how Simon adapted to his new wingback role and ‘killed’ defenders with his pace and trickery.
But is Nantes just another chapter for Moses that leads to his ultimate dream – to play in the prestigious English Premier League despite a failed move to Brighton & Hove Albion in 2018.
“It was very close, but I’m happy with my football. I will take my career as it comes,” Simon explained to Tribal Football. “Yes. I was aware of some clubs seeking to sign me like Brighton showing strong interest with their package to sign me, but the deal did not see the light of the day. I don’t want to go into details about what happened.
He continues: “I have strong desire to play in the EPL. This is my dream, but things happen in football and I believe everything is for my good. When it is time, it is time. I believe in destiny.
“Talking about offers from other Premier League clubs, I think my manager is in the best position to handle the business of transfer or offers that comes to my table. Mine is to play football and I leave my manager to handle that aspect for me.
“Why not? It is the dream of most footballers to play in the EPL. It is the most followed league in the world.
“I’m glad that I have played in one of the best leagues in the world which is the La Liga. Playing against Lionel Messi is like possessing a fortune. If God say that I will still play in the EPL, I will.”
At 24, Simon is one of the youngsters that will help the Super Eagles dominate African football and perhaps achieve her best ever finish at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. These are exciting times for our football.
Sadly, these successful talents have cast an indulgent eye on the rough pitches with which they were brought up to develop it to international standard. This is where other nationals tower over ours, who at their retirement canvass for help for virtually everything as if they didn’t earn cash for everything they did for the country. In Egypt, Mohammed Salah has done remarkably well for those whose paths crossed his, including retired stars. Sadio Mane is a cult hero at home giving back to the society where he emerged from. Each time our players take the leap of faith in their careers, they forget how it all began. They only remember in the twilight of their career to relate with those who moulded them for greatness and the places where it all started, knowing that they have come home to roost.
Our soccer stars can point at buildings, cars and most times dwindling business concerns as the landmarks of their careers unlike what we read about successful players in Europe. We can’t pretend not to know that some of our big stars are suffering. Many are living on tread with the two players’ unions not helping matters. What we find yearly are conflicts among the two bodies which should work as a unit. These former stars see only coaching teams as what they can contribute to the growth and development of a game which brought them fame and wealth. These players who brought us joy with their performances see being NFF members and/or NFF President as their right, leaving the other lucrative marketing windows in the game unattended to.
Our former stars ought to return to the local leagues and invest in them, especially those they played for. What would it cost them to buy jerseys, boots and other playing apparels for the boys to train and play matches? Which state governors who are the real owners of the game who won’t be happy to receive financial support from our former stars, knowing the spiral effects of such support? We need role model clubs and they can only come from the products are stars created.
The lacuna created as a result of our ex-internationals tunnel towards football growth has thrown up many clowns in the administration of the game. The governance of the game would remain in the domain of self-seekers unless our ex-international and those who have what it takes to administer the game to indicate their interests. The thought process of the game’s administration is robust, hence the hiccups in change the trend from what it is.
Otherwise, how could football owners under any platform be talking about private leagues, knowing that it has no antecedents. Globally, we have only one league in football nations such as England, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, Austria, Turkey to mention a few. So, when some self-seekers here talk about launching private league, the pertinent questions to ask them are how they are worth as individuals? Which competitions would their winners be participating in? Where would they get referees to handle their matches? Would their emergence not translate to sidelining the NFF, which is the only body recognised by FIFA to run the game here?
Indeed, how many of those canvassing for the private league are truly professional, according to global standards? Don’t they owe their players, officials and coaches their wages? Which of these private league canvassers can match government owned teams in terms of paying good wages, if push comes to shove? Some government clubs, we are told pay between N500,000 and N1 million per month to their players which isn’t sufficient in the professional cadre. An average professional player should earn at least N5 million, if our organisers know the power of the game and he investment platforms in soccer, which our European counterparts have exploited maximally.
Truth is that the seeming global recession has affected football governance largely because we have administrators who are used to spend government money. They cannot think outside the box. They don’t understand what it means to be accountable to their sponsors. Since government money is perceived as free cash, these administrators are not prudent. Monies released must be spent on the itemised sub-heads to government including those inflated.
IF our soccer administrators had learned how to save cash for the raining days, football won’t be comatose as it is in the domestic league.
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