After a year in office as Chairman of the FCT FA, have you been able to fulfil your campaign promises?
I would say we are very thankful to God and I can say by his will we have kept and even surpassed our promises. Why, because most times people are used to rhetoric without evidence of impactful achievements on ground. We were able to do so much within this period of seven months minus the four months of COVID-19 lockdown because we had a road map, an implementation strategy that was realistic. Immediately we were sworn in we hit the ground running and we touched every part of the football cycle ecosystem.
In concrete terms what are some of these achievements?
A lot has been achieved but in summary we were able to revive and re-package the FCT FA League, organise the U-15 Boys competition. I also masterminded the Bayern Munich trophy tour and the Youth Cup success and also ensured that our male team advanced in the now suspended 2020 National Sports Festival. Furthermore, I initiated and berthed the inaugural Abuja Beach soccer tournament, introduced Teq football in Abuja, embarked on the renovation of both the Area 3 and Old Parade Ground sports grounds, offered full sponsorship for 21 FCT coaches to attend the basic coaching course at the National Institute for Sports (NIS), facilitated the Bayern Munich coaching clinic for coaches in FCT and also entered into football development pact with embassies of Belgium and Hungary.
Out of the achievements recorded, which would you say is more critical to football development in the FCT?
It really depends on what angle and bias you see it, as each is critical because we really don’t have much on ground. Infrastructure is lacking, education is lacking, grassroots competitions/programs in the Local councils are non-existent. Personally, I think infrastructure is very critical, a well-maintained one that is sustainable and could be used by the community is the foundation of any sports development. Then there is the education of the coaches, referees, and players which we have continued to encourage.
Which of the projects was the most difficult to execute?
I would say the infrastructure repairs as its all government-owned. Thus, many limitations and bureaucracies were encountered. We have inadequate spaces for fields, pitches, parks, recreation and stadiums in every local area or communities. We must invest more in these as they are a huge part of social development of society. There is a direct correlation between access and availability of such facilities to the healthy lifestyle index of countries. It is very worrisome to see that sports is still considered a past time in this part of the world rather than see it as a necessity for human development and critical contributor to GDP and other indexes. We have an unhelpful mindset towards sports hence the difficulty to even budget adequate resources and develop it.
How are you preparing for football development in the FCT post COVID-19?
Indeed, the unfortunate outbreak of this global pandemic has had a range of mental, social, psychological and economic impact on everyone. Unfortunately, also many have died and lost their means of livelihood. So we must come together and help those in need as much as possible. We have been involved in various forums brainstorming on how to get back to the beautiful game we all love and ensure the safety of all. So a lot of protocols are being designed to help return to a new normal. We have to sustain the value chain. If not for the pandemic, I am sure we would have continued with our programs and even evolved new achievements as we build from down up.
Have you enjoyed support from your board members and football stakeholders in the FCT?
Indeed, yes. First, we all were elected by a historic landslide mandate. So from that, you could see we have huge support and that came with high expectations. The current board is a very good fit as we work in harmony and understanding. The support is there and we have men and women of calibre and each has contributed to the game for many decades. It makes it easy to move in the right direction. The Local FA’s are our backbone and they are very supportive and appreciative of our efforts. And, as I have always said I want to reduce the power at the centre and empower the Local Area Council FA’s function better by running their programs and building a very strong structure
Having achieved this much in a year, would you pause or you have more in store for FCT Football?
There is no time for a breather we have a lot more to do and we are not getting carried away because personally I did not even want any recognition of our one year in office, but many stakeholders said we have to do some highlights so it could spur and motivate others across the country and states to see the possibilities and opportunities to collaborate and grow Nigerian Football. We always lay back and say NFF but it’s impossible for us to expect to be spoon-fed by the NFF as they have limited time and resources. Once you are responsible you have to take initiative and contribute.
Is there anything new you have learned in the last one year as a football association chairman?
Yes, we are always learning in life wherever we find ourselves and certainly I have always been open to learning anywhere and in any circumstance. I have learned the art of teamwork and tolerance from diversity. You also must listen to people of wisdom. You pick up very valuable lessons and then ask as many questions as possible. History is the best navigator of the future, so why this happened and why it has not happened. Then you begin to be analytical and piece the puzzle.
What is your advice to sports administrators as we think of how to recover from the present lockdown?
We must be smart with new ideas. We must be very judicious with spending plans and creative with high impact programs. We all must collaborate and be willing to learn how the world of sports is evolving not to live in our shells and think we are doing the right thing. We must have blueprints and working plan. You don’t just wake up and get ideas from the sky, or random consultants who bring proposals and you begin to run with it. Working without a proper plan and not carrying along all the stakeholders is a recipe for failure.