First was the comment I got from a colleague, a top civil servant in my state, on the difficult choices that confronted his six-year old son (6, not 16) between school homework and the football match on television. The second reason was the lament by a medical doctor friend, an MFR to boot, about what turned out to be my false hope in the NTA. The third reason, and an important one for that matter, was the message from a major stakeholder in the Nigerian Football League that I was erroneous in my statement that the League had ended penultimate week. In fact, it hadn’t.
But the fourth and major reason I had to reconsider publishing these reactions occurred much nearer home, on the matter of a bathroom article. Which set me thinking… ashe what goes round eventually comes round! Enjoy.
DR. ABDULLAHI DAHIRU:
I share your view regarding our younger generation’s craze for European football. Apart from the loss of lives and injuries caused by altercations that arise when one European club loses or wins a match, another ugly menace is the prevention of our youths from concentrating on their studies. I have asked several science students in secondary schools to mention the first 20 elements in the periodic table; they couldn’t. A geography student doesn’t know Lokoja is the confluence city where Rivers Niger and Benue meet. It is a shame that many of Nigerian secondary school students cannot even list the past Nigerian heads of state from Azikiwe/Balewa to Yar’adua, but surprisingly can list different line-ups of many European clubs. They know the most expensive player and the recent transfer fee of players between different clubs. A visit to cyber cafes in town will reveal that the frequently-visited websites by the youths are the European club websites. These matches have caused divorces between couples simply because they are supporting different clubs. I support you absolutely that we need to rebrand this “Arsenal’ Generation. Government should ban the watching of these matches in viewing centres to save many souls from deaths. Parents should also ban their children from watching these matches. Certainly, the ban will improve their performance in school and they will excel.
Your piece made good reading. But mind you, those Rivers guy might have been drunk only from soccer fanaticism. Soccer is having a telling negative effect on our people, especially the youths. It has assumed frightful dimensions even more serious than religious. Our priorities are really wrong somewhere.
ISA AHMAD, MNI:
Mallam let me tell you what happened the other day. There was a match on television but I was oblivious of it while busy on my laptop. My six-year old son was also supposed to be busy on his homework in the next room. Suddenly I heard his scream. I looked up in shock and saw him cheering a goal just scored. He noticed the incredulous look on my face, but innocently continued to analyse the match and the players for me, till I drove him back to his homework and switched off the TV. Can’t believe where he got all that at six years!
The situation is just too bad. This football fanaticism has become a source of irrational activities and embarrassing debates even among the business and political elite. May God have mercy on us.
USMAN MOHAMMAD OLOJE, ESQ:
I share your patriotism. But you and I know that our younger generation who find refuge in watching European leagues do so not for lack of patrotism but for lack of an alternative. Not many Nigerians can stand the thuggery that is played out at our match venues; the hard and unfriendly pitches on which our matches are played; the low standard of officiating (which is responsible for almost one hundred per cent home-wins for home teams, except for home teams that cannot ‘take care’ of the officials); the near-absence of our referees at international football competitions; the lack of efficient live television coverage for our local league and the attendant lack of publicity; the absence of management and marketing skills on the part of our club managers; and the use of our clubs by politicians as tools of politics, not sports. I can go on and on with the reasons why our citizens find solace in watching Euro leagues on TV rather going to our stadia to be stabbed by ‘yan daba’ who are the chief supporters, as far as I know, of Kano Pillars, or to be bored by the karate that always masquerades as football matches at our match venues.
Gafarta Mallam! May Allah repay you for the jihad you are doing. We really need this rebranding. Allah Ya Saka da alheri, Ya kuma bada ikon ci gaba.
DR. MUKHTAR GADANYA, MFR: Malam, you spoke too soon on the NTA. A football match has delayed the Newsline/Network News. I am filing a complaint!
Kai! Wallahi I agree with you. This Arsenal generation must be rebranded. Must we wait till 2011 for the real rebranding to start?
Don’t blame us for being Euro football crazy. They know how to market their leagues, especially the English Premier League. They are well organised and the money pumped into it is amazing. And Malam Bala, look how the European players always come out looking as if freshly scrubbed and brand new. We must work on our own football. Sometimes the changes required are not much. Better pitches, for example, will go a long way. Our football is another indicator of our failure.
Your write-up on rebranding an Arsenal generation is fantastic. The only correction, however, is that the Nigerian league did not end two weeks ago. It ended just this week, and the winner is Bayelsa United.
Finally, on that bathroom item. A few days after I fired off the ‘Arsenal’ article, I saw a spectacle on the laundry line at home that crumbled all my cookies. The item that caught my eye that day on that laundry line had me transfixed in a daze, wonder, awe and amusement. That item, of all the items in the world, was a red towel branded and emblazoned with “Arsenal” and the picture of that piece of artillery. I had stood there, unable to move. I was affronted, confronted and under attack! Was someone playing a prank on me? On further inquiry, I was told that the towel belonged to one of my sons. The chickens have really come home to roost! What the Hausa would call dara ta ci gida! I am, therefore, through my son, a Gunner! Goner! Going! Gone!
In light of the above, therefore, this article and its predecessor which caused all this wahala are hereby rebranded and renamed REBRANDING A “MAN U” GENERATION!