FG rules out possibility of hiring foreign coach for Eagles

dalung-Amaju-Pinnick

 

U-17 Basketball Tournament: FG protests Spanish embassy visas denial for athletes
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Angered by the denial of visas by the Spanish embassy to Nigerian U-17 female basketball team, the federal government has officially launched a protest to both Spanish government and the Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Sports Minister, Mr. Solomon Dalung who was furious with the decision of the Spanish government while speaking to Journalists at the presidential villa on Tuesday said the action taken against Nigerian athletes was wrongly placed.

The minister also ruled out the possibility of hiring a foreign coach for the national football team.

According to him, reasons raised by the embassy which included padding of athletes’ list said they were unfounded.

Consequently, the Minister said he had presented Nigeria’s formal protest letter to Spain’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Alfonso Barnuevo, in Abuja and also met with President Muhammadu Buhari presumably on the issue

Dalung said he had investigated the allegations and found them false hence the decision of the Nigerian government to fight it.

He stressed it was necessary to do so to avoid further occurrence of trumped up allegations against a Nigerian side by other countries.

‎Dalung also stated that the protest against Spain’s action had been extended to the International Basketball Federation.

He said,”Our U-17 female basket ball team qualified in Madagascar for the Spain event but sadly after fulfilling all righteousness of visa requirement, even when extraordinary conditions were introduced by Spain our federation met all, but at the dying minute they were denied visa.

“Before I came to the State House. I was in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to officially protest the treatment given to Nigeria. I must really investigate more because the reasons given by the Embassy of Spain is that, one, the letter signed requesting for visa was signed by a dead person.

“I had to in my office today invite the author of the letter to come to my office and behold he is a living person.

“The second reason was that the list sent was padded and that there was an attempt to smuggle some people and traffic them across the border. The list that was brought to me today which I still have it here is not up to 18 both athletes and officials and these were the people that went to Madagascar for competition and there was nothing like padding in it.

“The last reason was that it was out of time or it was brought in short notice. This one too did not stand the test of the investigation I did. This is why we have protested officially to the embassy and I have written the international federation about the treatment they gave to us.

“I guess it will not take too long. We still insist on getting visa from Spain for our athletes to go and participate because if we allow this to go on, then, we are opening the gate for other countries to use this technique of disqualifying Nigeria when they feel we are going to be a threat in any international participation”.

The minister also ruled out the possibility of hiring a foreign coach for the national football team.

According to him, the harsh economic realities of the times would not make such a decision realistic.

He recalled some most of the coaches were being owed as a result of situation, wondering if a foreign coach would accept the condition.

The minister however said that using local coaches was worthwhile if they could rise above parochial politics.

“The selection of coach usually is handled by our technical team. We are a supervising ministry. We have little to do with the process but we have a role in guiding what is best for Nigeria.

“I have always maintained that if we cannot pay indigenous coaches, we still owe them some months of salaries, some of them have even died without those salaries.

“Do we still go and look for foreign coach and will he be able to tolerate us without salaries for some time more also that we may also be paying him in hard currency? So, it is a fundamental contradiction to swallow easily but there is one aspect of this indigenous coaching that has been responsible for the poor performance of football in Nigeria which Nigerians need to know.

“They have not been able to grow above their parochial sentiment. An example is that a coach will train a team, the team will qualify to go to the next stage, once it becomes international they will now submit a different list of people not the entire new people who qualified.

“This already has violated what is referred to as team spirit in football. A team that played is different from the one that is going. We have that crisis on our hands now, especially with the list of those who are going to Rio.

“Those who qualified are fundamentally different from those that have been sent to go and play at the finals. So, some people are only good to go and qualify and create room for others to go. That is one of the problems with indigenous coaching,”Dalung said.

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