Nigeria needs to rebuild foundation of its sports development – Kojo Williams

Nigeria needs to rebuild foundation of its sports development – Kojo Williams

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Former Nigeria Football Association chairman, Anthony Kojo Williams, has described Nigerian Sports as a dead horse that can never wake up, no matter how desperate you tried to revive it.
The football administrator, who is so passionate about sports, said Nigeria should begin to rebuild her sports from the grassroots and forget about the ‘old style’ of developing sports in the country.
Speaking with our correspondent, Williams urged the Federal Government to carry out complete overhauling of the Sports Ministry by replacing the administrators with fire brand officials who are ready to make sacrifice for the improvement and properly structured sports in Nigeria, adding that they should stop ‘flogging a dead horse’ that cannot wake up again.
According to him, Nigeria is not making progress in Sports because there are no committed officials at the helm of sports. “As such, there is no direction to actualise any proposal to change the fortunes of sports from any level,” he noted.
Williams reckoned that every aspect of Nigerian sports needed fresh touch, from athletics to boxing, weightlifting, swimming and football.
“Nigeria failed at the last Olympic Games due to lack of preparations and inadequate funding. No programme to succeed. No initiative to strategise. No fund drive in case no fund comes from the government. It is high time we put our house in order to make things work for the upcoming athletes,” he said. untitledSpeaking about football development, he said he would like the new Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr to adopt the principle Dutch coach, Clemens Westerhof adopted when he coached Nigeria. The former football association boss believes that the same mentality Westerhof used when he coached the Super Eagles, could still work for Nigerian football. He said his idea then was robust football, just like the way the Cameroon national team players were built. “Players need to be physical, fast, and play athletic football. What Westerhof did then was to build the Super Eagles around this principle. Play up that physical and athletic power attributes and blend them into a team. He mixed some local players with the professionals to achieve result.
I remember that my late dad paid Westerhof for three years in order to stabilise him because he saw the sense in what he was doing.” He said the present Eagles must pass through this system if they want to succeed as a team. Kojo recalled that since he left the Glass House in 1999, things have not changed for a bit.
“What I want to say is that we need to move forward. We must go back to the foundation of football and sport development generally, take it down and rebuild it. We must have a proper philosophy of what a brand is.
We must sit down and ask ourselves, why do we celebrate the foreign leagues and we don’t have a good league? Speaking on how he brought Adidas to Nigeria, he recalled that “in 1994, representatives of Adidas in Nigeria had prepared a jersey for Ghana during the World Cup qualifiers and had written off Nigeria.
I looked at them in the faces and told them, ‘Ghana will not go anywhere; it is Nigeria that will qualify and do Africa proud’. They refused to sign an agreement with Nigeria and I told them that in two months, you would be back. And indeed, they came back.
It will be recalled that it was Kojo’s late father, Chief Sebastian Babatunde Williams, who single-highhandedly employed Dutch coach, Clemens Westerhof and his assistant, Bonfrere Johannes. “Recently, a staggering 26 members of Nigeria’s Under-17 side failed an age test carried out ahead of an African Cup of Nations qualifier.
A mandatory Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) screening of the squad revealed almost half were ineligible to play. Only last year, the Golden Eaglets won the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Chile for a record fifth time. But accusations of age cheating have blighted Nigeria’s success at international age group tournaments in recent years.
Reacting to this, Williams said, “We use over-age players for junior championships, I know that. Why not say it? It’s the truth. We always cheat. It’s a fact.
“And when you cheat, you deprive the young stars that are supposed to play in these competitions their rights. Nigeria will go to the road side to pick players instead of going into the schools and select promising ambitious players. It is sad,” he said.

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