I ought to keep a distance from this topic, but considering my obligation to the public as a reporter, who must regularly and continuously give update on issues, here I am on the African Nations Volleyball Championship in Rwanda.
Result of yesterday’s final between Tunisia and Cameroon, to a large extent, reflected a true performance level of the two teams which stopped Egypt and Morocco at what should be called explosive semi-finals. That has always been character of every semi-final because it determines gold medal prospect or otherwise of teams. I think also that quarter-finals are toughest stages as losers naturally backslide and join teams which fail to go past preliminary rounds of tournament. That’s go-home-with-empty-hands teams.
Yesterday, Tunisia eventually carried the day putting up very hard offensives over the net with maximum defence expressions, which frustrated the equally hard-fighting Cameroon. Going by Cameroon victory over highly rated Egypt at semi-final, I had looked forward to a sub-Saharan country this time upstaging the North Africans who appear to have enjoyed too much monopoly of the top seat of the continent’s Volleyball hierarchy. But it never happened; Tunisia beat Cameroon 3 sets to 1. In this championship again, the first, third and fourth positions went to Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco to renew the cycle.
Only nationalism will push me to wish the white of Africa losing their enviable position to their black counterparts. In terms of investment and total commitment to the game, they deserve what they get. It’s funny reading last night a message congratulating Nigeria for wining a 7th position out of 16 teams. Chai! A whole Nigeria; the giant of Africa! Yes, that’s a quarter final spot. But shouldn’t we have developed beyond that back line after many years of playing the game?
That is why I am repeating here this morning that those who applaud our team for this position may be doing it for two reasons: One, patriotism, which negates reality, and two, sycophancy, which is aimed at appeasing authorities; a deceit in Nigeria’s tradition. As far as I am concerned, that 7th position is unacceptable; yes, it’s a disappointment given the devotion and care I have seen in the current President of Nigeria Volleyball Federation, Engineer Musa Nimrod, in the past four years or so.
We ought to have played like Cameroon and landed a semi-final ticket, if not final. Well, that’s over. Preparation for next edition should not wait till the next edition. Coach Usman Abdullahi led crew ought to have picked some lessons and seen some secrets behind the consistent success of the North African teams. This must be part of their reports to be submitted and looked into to save us future embarrassment.