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How National Purpose Affects Nigerian Football

By Nwokedi Nworisara

Even in football you need to have a national purpose to win. It galvanises support that makes attack and defence easier and meaningful for players and supporters. Does Nigeria have a national purpose or national purposes? Are we hampered by the several pulls to many directions? An analysis of Nigerian world cup appearances only ends up exposing this problem. Nigeria plays better when the opponent is ahead in the score lines. The coach begins to bring in the talents hidden to this point and even the supporters begin to cheer in a frenzy only to equalise. But when Nigeria is ahead,then everyone relaxes and show of individual skills since there is hardly any national purpose to win.

Our most entertaining games have been those with scoreline 3-2 when we come from behind to win narrowly. Other times even the supporters have been known to switch support to opposing teams when they see that their team is not playing well. But it is also evident in our national life. We seem to act only in reaction but not with any defined purpose. To this end,we seem to stop even the best for the country when it does not seem to favour our narrow interests. When the match between Croatia and Nigeria was still goalless, NEPA or whatever you call it now struck across the country. Someone is protecting his interest against that of the nation. Then Network providers started having a tough time. Cable and TV broadcasts were perfunctory. Its always the same with what you see on our TV screen where the security forces execute their censorship live. Some scene adjudged against "national" interest is yanked off crudely or jammed so that it flickers until the scene is over. You know that even the security forces appear affected in this reactive agenda. Our security forces appear most efficient only when you attack their member. Then we may hear about demolishing whole villages in retaliation!!

What we need do is to ask the question ,do we really have a national purpose or have we in our haste relegated it to the background. Is this purpose properly communicated to existing and coming generations. Has this purpose changed since independence or have we only swept it under the carpet? How do you win a simple football march when you cannot be guided by only one goal? I mean this is not the time to have a substantive minister and a minister of state for religious purposes. This is not a time to appoint a coach and allow another to pick the team or remote control his decisions. This is not the time to have two NFAs or parallel congresses. This is television my friend. Only a firmly woven national political purpose unchanged by time can help you not just win football matches at the global level but savour the sweetness of victory.

* Nworisara wrote from Yenagoa Nigeria