Former international striker, Kelvin Onwana, is worried that governors of South East states do not see the potential of sports to provide employment for the region’s teeming youths. Onwana, an apostle of grassroots sports development, believes that rather than spend so much money on security, the governors can use sports to combat crime through developing the youths’ talents.
According to Onwana, the South East states, which usually produce majority of the athletes that represent the country in international competitions, only pay lip service to sports development and in the process create room for other states to poach their talents.
The former Spartans of Owerri star said, “Most of our states don’t know the importance of sports to human development. That is why all the states’ coaches are clustered in their capitals.
“In other states, coaches are posted to their local councils to discover and groom athletes, who go on to represent the state. But in the South East everything is political. That is why we make so much noise about sending coaches abroad for training.
“I constantly tell people that instead of sending one or two coaches abroad for refresher courses, the teachers should be brought here to train more people. Every six months, they should be bringing people here to train us and you will see a turn around in coaches’ performance. Many of the local coaches are outdated.”
He regretted that coaches willing to update their knowledge in their various sports are not encouraged to do so.
“Last year, I was to attend the CAF A license course, but I couldn’t because I had no money. I went to the then deputy governor of Imo State for help, but he couldn’t. Many of the coaches cannot afford the money to train themselves.”
On the poor state of the country’s club football, Onwana urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to find ways of training coaches and grading them appropriately. “That way,” he said, “anybody looking for any calibre of coach will go to the coaches’ union to get the qualified coach.”
He argues that the quality of coaches in the local league determines the type of players they produce, adding that half-baked coaches would always produce half-baked players.
The division in the footballers’ camp also worries Onwana, He said: “The coaches and players union are not helping issues. They are divided and fighting among themselves. There is no way football can develop in such a treacherous situation.”