Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Saving Akwa United from relegation

Saving Akwa United from relegation
By Amos Etuk
Last week, the 2014/2015Nigerian League  went on a three weeks break as the League Management Company stated that it would be an opportunity for the body to assess the state of facilities in the different venues especially the state of the football pitches and also give room for the incoming administration in the different states and club management relate as the new state Chief Executives settle into their new found roles.

It is only in Nigeria that a league system is never planned at the beginning of the season till a major event makes an unnecessary break to be forced on a league where a major sponsor expects a sustained mileage week in week out.
Just before the general elections, the league was suspended and the three weeks break is another added wastage even as we look forward to another break during July for the mid season transfer window and still expect that our league will fall in line with the European season and even give our clubs on the continent ample opportunity to prepare for the next season and the challenges ahead.
For Akwa United, the darling club passionately followed by fans within this zone, the current state of the club does not give hope of any possible survival of the club in the present season as they have been anything but impressive till this break. 

For the records, Akwa United after ten matches in the season and going into this undeserved break are fifteenth on the league table in a twenty table league format. They have won three matches, drawn two, lost five, have a miserable five goals scored in ten matches and have conceded a whooping ten goals ending up with eleven points.

The team is coached by veteran gaffer, Zachary Baraje who succeeded homeboy Patrick Udoh another coach whom management and the board last season tried to inject a homemade content on the team as they once again battled for survival escaping on the last day of the league.

The story is not different this season despite the promises by Baraje that he will earn a continental slot for the team at the end of the season. This season, the team has shown that they far from knowing what direction can give them any success story as even the home front games have been far from convincing as fans have began to be restless on the dwindling fortunes of the club.

Akwa United over the years has become a below average side whose best players have since moved on to better strides of successes in the likes of Ubong Ekpai, Mfon Udoh, etc and a management that has kept secret the earnings and financial transactions of these big sales preferring to recruit bench warmers from other clubs to fulfil any obligation of being busy in the transfer market. 

In the last three seasons, Akwa United has hovered around the last bottom four clubs of the season as fans become very apprehensive with prayer sessions held for divine intervention to save the club from a possible relegation to the lower division.

Each season, the same crop of individuals are nominated to manage the team, yet with the same results being churned out each season and the board has failed to take firmer decisions on the need to project this club as being viable and rewarding to the Akwa Ibom State Government and the people who are the primary stakeholders of the team.

Each season, the same excuse is always given about the state of financial status of the team as salaries, allowances and other welfare perks of players and the coaches are usually delayed as the players most times are forced to play without any meaningful motivation and this season holds no difference.
Despite the financial windfall that has come into the state in the past few years, the sports sector has been totally neglected as almost all sporting associations depend on government for financial support to execute their programmes and despite the conditions given by the League Management Company on the need to meet the set targets of the players, most clubs in the country including Akwa United have failed to pay stipulated salaries of players and on time.

Last season, the show of shame where players marched to the Government House Uyo twice before the sum of N200million was released was a national show of shame which was hurriedly swept under the carpet. The players were chided by the sports commissioner, Monday Ebong Uko, they were threatened, but the issues raised by these players were not addressed despite all promises given in front of the media as the pathetic situation continues.

We begin to wonder what kind of sports administrators we have including Commissioners who have failed the team, who have not found any sincere approach in managing the team, who fail to watch the team’s matches, fail to motivate the team and a rather quick to threaten the team with match bans when the going is actually tough and from the way the present season is playing out, it will likely repeat itself.

Last year, the sports commissioner, Monday Ebong Uko while addressing the media at his conference room at the height of the protests of the players of the club promised to implement a short, medium and long term project that will see the club overcome its financial challenges from this season, unfortunately, no new idea has been put in place as politics has virtually taken over the governance of the ministry neglecting development in the sports sector.

We have a team of administrators every season who lack the technical competence to manage the team successfully, yet, they are still given the opportunity to stick with the team, we wonder what criteria is used in assessing the quality of players and technical crew for the team and why the dependence on a technical crew of assistants from the home front who can barely read games and make any tactical input to influence the game.

The invincibility of the team at home this season has been diminished as the games against Taraba United Football Club and even the last fixture against Shooting  Stars Football Club whom they had to fight from a goal down has left fans convinced that the team is surely heading for relegation if no interventionist measures are urgently taken to save this team.

Good enough, we have a new Governor whose policy thrust is on a private sector driven economy and like I had earlier stated in an earlier piece, it would be advisable to ensure that an overall assessment of the management of the team should be carried out before a comprehensive overhaul of the structure is carried out by the end of the season if we survive the drop.

If the business of managing the club has been challenging when you consider the fact that the team has never won any national trophy like the league or Federation Cup, then we must disband the team and possibly sell it off while channelling our presently dwindling resources to other sectors yearning for development.

Yours Sincerely believes that if the new government takes sports seriously as another mega project that will project the state positively like Enyimba Football Club has done in Abia State and Kano Pillars in Kano State, then we must get the right man who know the right decisions to take charge of this sector in propelling his administration to more mileage in the country and possibly on the continent.

We must not believe that the politicians can be fully committed in the assigned portfolio to manage our sports as they come into office from a different perspective and mentality to fulfil a political objective in office rather than being committed to the development of sports and like I have always stated, Akwa United is the biggest sporting brand that Akwa Ibom State has at the moment and unfortunately, the club has been mismanaged over the years without any progress and the time to take a very firm decision on the future of the club is now so that by the end of the season a new framework would have been put in place for its future successes and rewards to the State Government.

There must be new ideas in making the club beneficial to Akwa Ibom State and the need to facilitate of commercial package with a strong private sector investment is ripe that will ensure that the team is better managed away from the recurring decimal of financial uncertainty each season.

The running of this great club is not a selfish venture where select people feed fat undermining the progress of the club yet despite the financial challenges the club faces, these same set of faces are desperate to serve on the board and management of the club because they have been consistent in the system and believe it is their right till date. 

All that can change in a moment of history as the battle to save Akwa United must begin now after just ten matches. We still have a long season ahead but there must be an intensive surgery that must be carried out now if we intend to survive the relegation fears this season. Some persons must give way for new ideas to chart a new course for the survival of the team. Time will tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment