Former Nigerian International, Felix Owolabi, has hailed players and clubs for sustaining the country’s league, despite the harsh conditions they face.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Owolabi said that in spite of the fault noticed in the operation of the leagues in the country, the clubs should be commended for allowing its continuity.
“A lot of things are happening in Nigerian football. As someone who has seen it all, one must appreciate the little we have achieved so far. But quite unfortunate, there has not been much improvement in our local league,”
he said, Over the years, inadequate funding has been a bane to the growth and smooth running of the local leagues in the country. There have been recurring complaints of unpaid match bonuses and salaries by clubs, as well as difficulties in traveling arrangement, which have almost stunted the players’ desire, hence, the distortion in the growth of the local league.
Owolabi said: “In Nigeria today, almost all the clubs that belong to the government find it difficult to get the needed funds to run them successfully, Especially when a government does not like sports, particularly football. Then you envisage the challenges that lie ahead for the club.”
Owolabi, who played for the then IICC Shooting Stars up till 1992, believes that a lot needed to be done for the players’ welfare in order to get them back to the days of glory of the country’s league.
“I can’t imagine players traveling long distance to honour a league match. I can recollect a match where a club that came to Ibadan for a league game and the players that I saw all looked hungry, like they haven’t eaten. The fact is that most of them are owed match bonuses, salaries clubs.“May be, the only reason why these boys are still putting up their effort is the hope that one day luck will shine on them either via an invitation to the national team or a greener pasture,” he stated.