How do you treat people who have done a country proud by coming first in a major competition? Expectedly; they are to be honoured, feted and appreciated with monetary and material gifts. This is the trend in even the most advanced and developed nations of the world where you could say that parents and families of athletes do not really need to be taken care of in the sense of the Nigerian experience.
That the Super Falcon have to take to the streets to protest and ask for their legitimate earnings (talk less of honour, gifts et all) speak volumes of the decay and retardation that has recently befallen us a Nation!
After I heard the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung uttered the most unfortunate statement that could come out of any person in his position that ‘they’ were not expecting the team to win the cup and that was why there was no arrangement or provision for their payment; I couldn’t help but fall into an uneasy silence. What a tragedy!
His utterance and subsequent shabby handling of the whole affair led to the embarrassing steps taken by the gallant ladies to force home their demands. Due to ‘self-help’, it was confirmed today that the Chief of Staff to the President, Aba Kyari met members of the team, asked them to document their grouse and promised that they will be paid within two days. Will that be done? Your guess is as good as mine.
The fact that this type of incident imparts to the female football champions of Africa tells a lot about the kind of people we have in our government! The football federation chairman and the sports minister should both honourably resign and accept that they have failed Nigerians!
Let it be clear to the authorities that these fantastic ladies have done Nigeria proud and should be accorded respect, dignity and honour. They are also children of Nigerian parents who are looking forward to the benefits of the exploits of their wards.
If the victorious Super Falcons could be treated this way, one can imagine what other athletes of less popular sports go through in the hands of our so-called administrators. Without mincing words; it will be difficult for teams of the future to be committed to national assignments when this type of experience is remembered or replayed in their minds.