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Welcome to the arena of uncertainty

Hello sports fans. What a time to stage a comeback to the arena. Did you see that coming at about now? Probably no. Any indication the return could drag this long? Not exactly.  But that is the nature of sports, full of uncertainties and surprises. In reality, life shares a common feature with sports, always expect the unexpected. That is the beauty of both, if you are on the winning side.

Unexpectedly, Leicester City FC emerged English Premier League champions last season. Surprisingly, the man who performed the magic, Claudio Raineri is already in the labour market, even before the end of the current campaign. Did anyone foresee that? In this arena, impossibility is nothing, if in doubt, ask Barcelona football club players.

Interestingly, MASSIVE ATTACK is returning in this era of increasing uncertainties surrounding local and global sports. The unpredictability is more pronounced in our domain.  The Octopus wouldn’t have contemplated the absence of Nigeria from two consecutive editions of Africa’s football show piece, even with our much improved local league.

Despite the murky waters, the journey has to be embarked upon. Some advanced countries have confronted the uncertainties head-on; many others are strategizing, while confusion still reigns supreme in our clime.

Responsible sports reportage and analysis must brace up to push our sports administrators to do the needful. Contrary to the views held in some quarters, the Nigerian Sportswriter has always been partner in progress in sports development. This was clearly demonstrated in September 1992, when the Sportswriters Association of Nigeria (SWAN) under my leadership, organized a seminar to assist our administrators in securing the nation’s first World Cup ticket. The outcome of that exercise resulted in a publication titled “Nigerian Soccer, Goals of the Future “. Of course, the Super Eagles made their World Cup debut in USA’94. Thank you for applauding SWAN.

Oftentimes, the challenge has been how to reconcile the patriotism of the Sportswriter with the ethics of his profession. He has a duty to identify, analyse and highlight obstacles to the development of sports. Factors, if not addressed, make progress impossible. But how do those in authority interpret such efforts by the sportswriter without labeling him a threat to their lucrative positions. Who is a patriot here? The journalist, who exposes the ills in the system for his country to make progress, or the one fraternizing with the bureaucrats and politicians in government to perpetuate evil and obnoxious policies.

Objectivity is in the eyes of the beholder, yet it remains the only way to go in finding a balance between pricking the conscience of our sports administrators and playing our role in the most professional manner.

In addition, the economic and diplomatic value of sports, coupled with its capital intensive nature, makes it compelling for us to interrogate the dynamics thoroughly.

As “Massive Attack “, makes its return to the arena, the focus would be to create a platform for intellectual resource . The overall objective is to have robust cross-fertilization of ideas aimed at providing support for repositioning. Nigerian sports need professionals at all levels that are capable of responding in a proactive manner, to drive the desired reform.

This column would be available for all shades of opinions and will not arrogate to itself the exclusivity of sound knowledge.

It feels good to be back here after some years of sabbatical, occasioned by unforeseen circumstances. Again, this is in the realm of sports and its uncertainties. First, I joined my state team, Heartland FC, and later the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority as general manager, Public Affairs until September 2015. Unfortunately I was involved in an auto crash in 2014 resulting in fractured femur which restricted my movement for about three years now. Thank God for His mercies, I am much better and could not wait to return to this addictive profession of ours.

Hopefully, the energy is still there to carry on. Expect the usual fireworks in keeping with laid down traditions. It’s obvious feathers would be ruffled along the line, but it would be devoid of personal attacks. Let’s discuss issues and proffer solutions.

Here, facts will remain sacred and comments free. Issues canvassed here are personal opinions and in the words of the literary icon, the late Chinua Achebe, “if you don’t like my book, write your own “.

I pledge to Nigeria my country to uphold the professional ethics, and to be objective, so help me God.

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