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It’s time to forgive Fash the ‘Bash’

Last year, when Fash came up with the idea of a football challenge and asked youths to register with three thousand naira, many people kicked…

Last year, when Fash came up with the idea of a football challenge and asked youths to register with three thousand naira, many people kicked against the project. You know, the great Ambassador is never trusted by some Nigerians simply because they believe he refused to play for Nigeria. The story that he turned down so many invitations and opted to play for England, his adopted country is well known. Consequently, most Nigerians still believe that he is not a patriot so anything he does around here is meant to feather his nest. Therefore, even as the Ocean Bank sponsored TV Reality show ended successfully with the eventual winners going home with the much advertised prizes, most of his unrepentant critics believed he ripped off the Nigerian youths.

Thus, his present project which is to be powered by Springbank and Bank PHB has received similar knocks from those who don’t believe in him. The general opinion is that he only wants to make use of Nigerian youths to make more money. Therefore, the football challenge may hold but it will not be spared the jabs which last year’s event received from critics.

Now, I want to play the role of an advocate for John Fash the Bash for that is how he was popularly called in his playing days. Though an attacker, the former England international is said to have brutalized not a few defenders. Apart from leaving them with painful memories of how he dribbled them to score some fantastic goals, those who tried to frustrate his dashing runs unfairly incurred his wrath. Such offenders ended up on doctors’ slabs. As I said earlier, most Nigerians believe he refused to represent his country of birth and so he should not have anything to do with Nigerian football. Therefore even when he attempted to lead the NFA, many people vowed to stop him even if it meant sacrificing their eyes. Fash himself did not help matters because when he was elected as a board member of the NFA in the days of Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, he disappeared into thin air. It was obvious that all he wanted was to be NFA Chairman and when he failed to realize his ambition, his commitment evaporated. And the worst of it all is that instead of staying in Nigeria to contribute his quota, he was heard criticizing the same board from abroad.  Such unpatriotic behavior aggravated Nigerians hatred for him. Now, everything he does is viewed with suffocating suspicion.

Nigerians may have genuine reasons to perpetually suspect Fash but I want them to tamper justice with mercy. Even if in the past he snubbed the nation, it is said blood is thicker than water. May be he has realized the need to identify more with his country of origin. If we continue to feel that every of his move is laced with exploitative tendencies, we won’t support any of his initiatives.

While urging Nigerians to fully embrace their son, I want him to also learn to show every available transparency in all his transactions. Most of the things he does are profit oriented but he must remember that if he truly wants to help develop football in Nigeria, he must be mindful of the penurious backgrounds of most of the youths who are interested in playing the game.

It is on this note that I want to draw his attention to the fact that his latest football challenge is vulnerable to fierce attacks because it has in it lapses which have been deliberately or inadvertently ignored. Going by the organizers explanations, each participant is going to register with two thousand naira to be part of a team that will participate. The implication is that if each club is to register twenty two players, each player will pay two thousand naira. And considering the fact that Nigeria has over four hundred and forty five thousand wards, the money to be raised from registration alone will be massive. But we must also remember that in the end not all wards will participate. Another decision of the organizers which needs to be reconsidered is the openness of the challenge. If indeed it is meant to discover talents at the grassroots, the ALGON competition which is non discriminatory in terms of eligibility will not help in achieving the set objective. In the end, premier league players may flood the competition. If it is going to be a grassroots affair, all professional footballers should be debarred. This advice can only be faulted if Fash and his men are more concerned with profit to be made.

All said and done, there may be issues against the present initiative but I still want to urge Nigerians to learn to trust Fash. After all, he recently took pains to explain how he made efforts to play for Nigeria. Whether it was a well cooked story or not, he sounded serious and should be trusted. I am not justifying unpatriotism but I learnt that the present Director-General of the National Sports Commission, NSC, Dr. Patrick Ekeji also shunned Nigeria some years ago but he has been forgiven and it is for this reason that he now presides over the nation’s sports. It’s time we forgive Fash the Bash.