NOA Director General, Mike Omeri
* As AFN leadership wants total support for team
The National Orientation Agency (NOA), the government organ charged with redirecting the patriotic fervour of the average Nigerian on the right path on Thursday morning visited the national team in Abuja, during its training session at the Goal Project site, where the team is girding its loins against the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire by July 27.
The team was led to the early morning training session by the Director General of the organisation, Mike Omeri, who was accompanied by several aides including his respected Media aide, Paul Odenyi.
Speaking at the occasion, Omeri praised the resilience of the national team, which he said led to the win of the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa and urged the local based professionals to sustain the tempo by defeating the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the return leg, final qualifier for CHAN in Abidjan. The amiable NOA DG, said he was there not only as a Nigerian but to urge the players to be focused, determined and patriotic in all their encounters for fatherland.
“There are millions of other Nigerians yearning for opportunities like you have and they may even be better than you but God has chosen you. We must therefore show gratitude by not only doing well but giving our all at all times when we are donning our national colours.”
Omeri told the players that the recent bonus issues regarding the team was being addressed at the highest level and noted that government will soon come out with a satisfactory position to all parties concerned.
After making a donation of unspecified amount to the team, Omeri announced that Nigerian flags will flood Abidjan through the Nigerian Supporters Club and the NOA on match day.
Eagles captain, Chigozie Agbim, who spoke on behalf of the team said the team was in the right frame of mind to excel against the Ivorians and assured the NOA leadership and Nigerians that the team will not let the nation down.
Meanwhile, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria President, Chief Solomon Ogba, was a guest of the Super Eagles technical crew on Wednesday night, during which he canvassed more support for the national teams, football in particular and sports in general.
Ogba, was accompanied in his brief visit by Olympics 400m relay gold medallist, Enefiok Udobong, former 100m sprinter and now coach with the AFN, Gabriel Okon and AFN Scribe, Mrs Maria Wophill.
In a boisterous interaction with the coaching crew led by Stephen Keshi, with Dan ‘The Bull’ Amokachi, Hyoudonou Valere and Coach Ike Shorunmi listening, Ogba said he feels that football and indeed sports in the country was grossly underfunded, hence the recent issue of bonus row in the national team.
He declared that one way by which this could be redressed is to ask all major multinationals to take charge of particular sports, while government will net their expenses off through tax holidays.
“The Federal government can say for instance that the NNPC should take charge of the sponsorship of football in the country, MTN can be directed to sponsor athletics, Glo can handle the league as they are already doing, Nestle Plc, basketball and so on. With that we will have more accountability and government will be relieved of the burden of sports sponsorship and we will make the suggestions to the appropriate quarters,” he quipped.
Keshi, who responded on behalf of his technical crew, agreed with the submission of Ogba, and urged sports administrators to stop seeing the athlete and coaches as being in competition with them.
“The athletes fights hard for their income because their business is time limited and they must ensure that their future is a bit assured before they quit the scene, hence we see clashes between interest groups in sports often.”
Meanwhile, Keshi has praised the Presidency through the Presidential Task Force, the Sports Ministry and the Nigeria Football Federation over the commissioning of its new headquarters in Abuja on Thursday.
“It is indeed gladdening that for the first time in our football history the federation has an office to call its own. We are sure that in the coming years this commendable project will be improved upon by successive football administrators,” Ben Alaiya, Super Eagles Spokesman quotes Keshi as saying.