Tapping gold mine in NPFL
Chiamaka Madu of Rangers taking on Peter Ambrose of Kwara United in an NPFL match. Photo: footballimages
The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) has been facing some challenges ranging from players’ welfare, sub-standard stadia, poor officiating, lack of coordination amongst the league’s administrators and many more.
There’s no doubt that with the abundant footballing talents in the country, NPFL has the potential to rule Africa but the reverse is the case as teams struggle to compete with other African teams in continental competitions.
For instance, North African teams such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria occupied spots in the top five leagues in Africa with Nigeria, believed by many to be the giant of the continent in eight position.
Most Nigerian players now ply their trade outside the country owing to the fact that players’ welfare have not been encouraging. The former Chairman, League Management Company Shehu Dikko said though there were about two clubs owing their players in but there have been improvement.
Another major obstacle is the level of stadia across the country. Many of the pitches are in terrible conditions as they have been turned to worship centers and concert venues.
Bad officiating and win-at-all-cost syndrome is also one feature persistently killing the quality of football in the NPFL. Three match officials were suspended by Nigeria Football Federation Referees’ Committee in 2023.
Most often than not, football is seen as a business across the world but this is not the same with Nigeria as investment and sponsorship are minimal.
The Chairman, FCT Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Ndubueze Chidoka suggested that the welfare of players must be given priority. Salaries and sign on fees should be attractive, paid as and when due.
Governments at all level, must see football as a business and draw a model like the English Football League, Spanish La Liga and other top leagues in developed countries.
The Nigeria Football Federation must also engage professional referees whose officiating will be fair and transparent.
The stadia must be protected and invested in to meet current global realities.
Writing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade, editing by Daniel Adejo