The acting General Manager of Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) Ibadan, Mr Dimeji Lawal has expressed his frustration on Nigerian football development, attributing it to gross mismanagement otherwise known as corruption.
Lawal, a former member of the nation’s junior and senior national teams, averred while featuring on a weekly radio show, Parrot Xtra/Ayekooto on Radio’ anchored by Olayinka Agboola broadcast live on Splash 105.5FM, Felele Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
He also urged public to see African football beyond two sides engaging each other on the green turf, pointing out that football involved what he called mysteries and mystics.
The manager revealed that the ultimate aim of the 3SC is to secure a continental ticket, while denying the notion that the team is only focusing on escaping relegation to the Nigeria National League (NNL) from where it got promotion in the last season.
Speaking further on the club, he said, “I feel relaxed and better; the energy we bring into it is already yielding results. When people complain of the poor performances of the team, I took it upon myself to discuss with the coaching crew and they always assured me that things would get better”.
According to him, football is a process, and does not require haphazard approach. We are just a new team in NPFL. We need to understand the terrain and build a team that can compete globally. There is a big difference between the NNL and the NPFL. It took Manchester City under Pep Guardiola some time before the club started competing globally with top clubs.
Lawal said, “In this part of the world, we are used to fire brigade approach and in football; there are three results which include draw, loss or win. We want people to support us at all times; we are investing our energies to win at all times and our aim is to get a continental ticket and not to get relegated”.
He appealed to Governor of Oyo State Engineer Seyi Makinde, not to renege on his promise to the team and called for more support from interested individuals and stakeholders.
Going down memory lane, Lawal reminisced, “I grew up around Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) area where playing football was seen as a top priority. My father was also a footballer while my late mother was an athlete for the then Western State. Sporting activities runs in our blood, even my brothers played in Atletico Madrid. My big break came in football when I signed for Femo Scorpions in Eruwa and I was paid around N4000”.
He disclosed that he would have loved to be a lawyer while the late Argentine skipper, Diego Maradona is one of his idols during his days as an active player.
Lawal attested that Coach of 3SC, Edith Agoye is technically gifted and not a pushover in football game planning while urging the club’s fans to continue to support the coaching crew in its bid to get a continental ticket at least.
On the vacant position of Super Eagles coach, he charged the football authorities to go for a technically sound coach from any part of the world, adding, “It is always good to have a round peg in a round hole. If an ex-footballer is given the opportunity to head the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), I am sure he will be able to handle the affairs better because of the experiences he has gathered during his playing days”.
He called on the NFF to come up with a formidable Super Eagles team through development of grassroots football scheme, berating a situation football pitches are turned to religious centres among other purposes.
“Also at the top, the Nigeria league has to be properly scrutinized because if the league gets better, we have more hungry players who are willing to play than the foreign-based players. Sometimes, the foreign-based players have nothing to lose if they do not perform well for their country. In Nigeria, do we give local coaches the same opportunity as we give foreign coaches? Why should we discriminate against an indigenous coach? NFF should support indigenous coaches to get results,” he said.
Lawal also revealed that betting and gambling are a part of problems affecting football in Nigeria, while revealing that gamblers are always frustrated after losing their hard-earned money on betting.
He added, “I think it is wrong for fans to place bets and expect the players to read their betting tickets and perform according to what they have staked. A typical fan invests two hundred naira on betting and hopes to win a million naira. So, if the team now plays a draw instead of winning, the fan is now unhappy and ready to vent his anger. This type of scenario is hurting the game of football especially in Nigeria.”
The administrator affirmed that officiating in the NPFL is gradually improving while elaborating that there is need for further improvement to make the Nigerian league more competitive.