Electronic money exchangers listing
Find Cheap Textbooks - Save on New & Used Textbooks at AbeBooks.com

Nigerian club football and poor administration -Chibuike Chukwu

Rate this item
(0 votes)

What could be more devastating than a professional sportsman or woman prematurely retiring from the game as a result of a treatable and manageable career-threatening injury?

Robert Payne, the late popular English author, might have had Nigerian football administrators in mind when he said: “To wish a healthy man to die is the wish from a mind of sickness. To wish an ailing man to die is the wish of the ambitious. But through our actions or inactions, we have wished a lot of ailing and sick people dead without meaning it.”

The Nigerians might have unknowingly agreed with Payne with the poor management of the domestic league, which is turning a death knell to so many footballers and administrators.

The real intention for football administration in Nigeria might be devoid of any malicious intent but the managers have shown everything but seriousness with strong emphasis on relegating the welfare of the main actors to the background.

One can only wonder what was going through the minds of Carl Ikeme, Super Eagles and Wolverhampton Wanderers of England goalkeeper, penultimate Thursday when he was handed the damning result of his medical checkup showing that he is suffering from acute leukaemia.

May be if he was playing in the Nigerian domestic league, he would have still put up a strong ambience, under which would have been thoughts filled with melancholy and sorrow knowing that his present cross was solely going to be borne by him alone even without clear-cut medical routine.

But that was not to be as Ikeme, early in the week, posted the first picture of himself in a very relaxed mood in the hospital where he immediately started chemotherapy as he begun a lengthy battle against the disease.

With a wild grin which depicted confidence and trust, Ikeme thanked everybody for their kindness and love shown, knowing that there is hope for him on the strength of where he is playing his club football.

“Thank you all for your kindness and Love. The start of a new chapter and ready to give it my all! Thank you.”

Would Ikeme have put up similar smiles and immediately start his chemo if he were to be playing in Nigeria? The answer is obvious no.

The player’s immediate treatment was not accidentally as it followed a well-planned medical insurance policy for the players.

Speaking immediately the player was diagnosed with the disease, Laurie Dalrymple, Wolves’ managing director, said that Ikeme would have the full complement of the club’s medical facilities at any time such is needed.

“It would be an understatement to say that everyone at Wolves has been shocked and saddened to hear the news of Carl’s diagnosis,” said Dalrymple.

“Similarly, it goes without saying that Carl and his family will receive the full love and support that we at Wolves can provide.

The statement from the club and the prompt medical attention to Ikeme has further exposed the hypocrisy and non-benignant disposition of Nigerian football administrators. Ikeme’s issue also unearthed the danger inherent in playing in the Nigerian league.

According to Zachary Baraje, who spoke to Independent, Ikeme would have been waiting for his death if he was a Nigerian league player.

“I doubt if he will succeed this kind of sickness if he is playing down here. May be he would have been waiting for the day he will die of the sickness,” Baraje, who has seen it all as a coach in the domestic league, said.

True to his words, so many Nigerian sports personalities have died from avoidable deaths due largely to the seeming insensitivity of the administrators, who failed and still fail to make the players’ welfare top priority.

Suffice to say that no single club in the domestic league has any medical insurance for its players. Worse still, the players are daily injected with pain killers in career-threatening situations.

Ikeme’s illness was discovered when he went for the club’s routine medical checkup. This is what Nigerian league footballers lack. There are no routine medical checks for players in the Nigeria league to ascertain their health status.

Worse still, Nigerian domestic league clubs hardly have doctors and nurses in cases emergencies and the consequence is the sudden retirements of players and even coaches over minor health issues.

For instance, before his death on the field of play with Julius Berger against Maxaquene FC of Mozambique in Lagos in 1995 during the semi-finals of the Africa Cup Winners Cup, Amir Angwe was reported to have severally slumped on the field while playing.

The club management, it was reported, was always resorting to reviving him without adequate medical attention. The player slumped and died with just a minute to end the match.

If the players and coaches of the Nigerian domestic league are medically insured as it is the global standard, perhaps the duo of Paul Hamilton and Kelechi Emetole, two of the nation’s experienced coaches, would still have been living today.

Hamilton died three months after one of his legs was amputated. He was alleged to be suffering from diabetes but the wife, while speaking to journalists after his amputation, said that her husband was not diabetic but had a leg injury.

“He’s not diabetic. He had a leg injury. It was an injury he sustained during his days as a footballer, which affected his bone. He’s now gradually managing to move around.”

In a clime where medical insurance is readily available to sportsmen and women, Hamilton would have treated himself of the protracted leg injury and would not have been amputated. He might have died due to depression arising from having one of his legs cut off.

Emetole’s death in an Indian hospital might not be unconnected with his inability to quickly raise $11,000 needed to carry out a surgery after he was diagnosed with a throat cancer. But for interventions from good-spirited individuals like his former captain at Heartland of Owerri, Chinedu Efugh as well as Kenneth Omeruo, he might not have even travelled for the surgery but then, the helps came late and he died.

Both Hamilton and Emetole represented the country as players and became household names in their coaching careers. Their ugly tale remains one of the sad commentaries in the nation’s poor football management. If their cases were to be abroad, their medical insurance and other incentives would have meant that their lives were saved.

Henry Nwosu (MON), former Super Eagles captain, while commenting on the issue, said that “the league is structured on a wrong footing,” while blaming the lack of care and medical facilities on the poor structure.

“Nigerian league is not very well structured so the players are exposed to not being taking care of. If the clubs are run professionally, the owners will understand that the entire team should be taking care of because they make profits from them.

“We should return the clubs to individuals because before now, majority of the clubs were owned by the big companies then,” he said.

To Idris Malikawa, media officer of Kano Pillars, while speaking to Independent, every club should take responsibility and ensure regular medical checkup for their players and officials.

“We know how the league is and the various owners, which are state governments, have a lot of issues to tackle.

“So every club should make sure that their players go through routine medical checkup to stop avoidable deaths.”

True to his words, several players and officials of the league have died from health situations they could have survived.

Recall that in April 2016, Mallam Tanko Nuhu, a match commissioner, died in his hotel room through complications arising from hypertension. He presided over the week 15 match involving Kano Pillars and Ikorodu United in Kano.

Narratives from the autopsy showed that Nuhu, a former board member of the Nigeria National League (NNL), who hailed from Nasarawa State, would not have been involved in the match or would have been placed on medication if he had gone through medical checks prior the match.

It would also be recalled that Orobosa Adun, then a goalkeeper with Warri Wolves slumped and died on May 26, 2009 from complications arising from hemorrhage, which was undetected due to no medical checkup.

Tajudeen Disu said that it would be difficult if not impossible to provide regular medical checks to players and officials in a league where salaries and allowances were hardly paid.

“The players are hardly paid. Their wages and salaries remain pending so tell me, where will the regular medical checkup come from? He asked.

Adegboye Onigbinde, a former FIFA and CAF technical committee member, reacting to the issue, berated Nigerian sports authorities for neglecting medical checkup for athletes.

“It is painful that we (football administrators) have refused to take the issue of medical check-up serious.

“FIFA rules on medical checkup are a regular thing; it is done before a match and after. It is not what is done once and you relax.”

On his own, Godwin Izilein said: “These clubs recruit players, hire coaches without bordering about their health condition which is risky. They don’t even have health centres for the clubs, everyman is on his own. Unfortunately, football administrators don’t even care, they are just after their personal interest.”

Truly, every club in the league has medical team but a visit to the stadiums during matches will further reveal the rot in the system. Clubs’ medical personnel are seen running into the pitches with sachets of water if their players are down.

Also, there is hardly seen a standby ambulance at the various stadiums and where one is cited, the medical vehicle will be devoid of first aid kits and other resuscitating and reviving items such as oxygen, Head Immobilization Device, glucometer, automated external defibrillator, among others.

When Independent visited National Stadium in Lagos over the issue in 2016, the motorized stretchers have been converted to beds by the security men at the sporting edifice, even as none of them can even move.

It is a fact that then Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba, who was clinically dead for about 60 seconds after he slumped on the field, would have died if it were to be in Nigeria. But the swiftness at which he was attended to attests to the professionalism available in the European set up.

Independent

 

Read 230 times