Sheu Dikko,the hardworking Chairman of the League Management Company the body that is responsible for the organization of the Nigeria Professional Football League ,NPFL,bare his mind on the maintenance of pitches across the various NPFL stadia.
The Nigeria Football Federation 2nd vice president deposited his thought on the subject in the Nigeria Football Support Platform, NFSP, a whatsaap group dedicated to matters as they affect the game of Football in Nigeria.
Olusola Adebayo,hereby present the excerpt :
Indeed, I always believe that maintaining our pitches and indeed stadiums has to be done in the most professional way and must be handled by professional firms that are paid only on successful delivery rather than in most cases handled by employees whom do get their salaries and allowances regardless of weather they do the job well or not. This believe arrises from a personal experience I had around 2001 or so when I used to promote a team in Kaduna - Kaduna Professionals and we were to play a match at the ABS and the pitch was not good. So I brought money to get the pitch fixed and instead of getting a thank you from the man in charge of the pitch I got insults that I got involved with his job and he has already requested for money from Abuja to fix the pitch and now the money might not come. The issue here is that the man actually allowed the pitch to messed up so he can get a budget approved to fix it... this thinking is still the major problem with our pitches as most of those in charge don't care and only wants budget for repair. So the way forward on this is to think out of the box and face a new direction.
Indeed, one of the major take always from our recent visit and technical agreement with the Morrocan Football authorities is that we were able to see what they do to keep their pitches always top notch and in top shape across the country and we would be working to deploy the same system here.
1. Firstly in Morocco they had set up private companies that specialized in only the construction, installation, refurbishment and maintenance of football pitches (and some Golf pitches).
2. The companies work with Government at all levels and the football authorities to maintain the football pitches across the county from the top division to even the amateur teams...
3. For construction and or refurbishment of pitches the money for this is sourced through the Government (ministries of interior, youth, sports, works and finance all support the project) and when the pitches are installed they come with a 5 year maintenance contract (and they are maintained 24/7).
4. The football authorities also secure sponsors and partners as well as development funds to pay for the maintenance of pitches for professional clubs and some amateur pitches... the professional clubs pitches are almost all grass and or a mixture of grass and synthetic as we have in some top European clubs while the amateur pitches are mostly synthetic (but the top grade ones).
5. Through this model the Moroccan football industry has succeeded in ensuring their pitches are always in good shape and has created huge job opportunities across the country with thousands of people employed by this specialist companies working to keep their pitches in top shape. Indeed Morroco started this program since 1986 and everything is sourced in Morocco from the grass to the expertise (as they have trained expertise across across board and have developed perfect seedlings that suite their environment). So everything is 100% Moroccon. They even go to Europe to install pitches...
5. Accordingly, we have had a meeting with the best company in Morocco working for the FA and the Ministry of sport and handling over 150 pitches across Morocco including all the top pitches were the national team and the top clubs play and have agreed with them to come to Nigeria and set up so we can see how to create this type of specialist Industry in Nigeria to ensure the professional installation and maintenance of atleast the key football pitches available in nigeria for a start (both grass and synthetic). They would go round the country and evaluate the pitches and make recommendations and we take it from there. They would also work to set up units across the country that would be trained accordingly.
6. We intend to find the money for this project through a combination of the owners of the stadiums (which are mostly government) and finding some sponsors to support the project especially in the long term maintenance contracts. Maintenance is the key to the success of this project and thus must be funded correctly.
7. Hopefully, if this project works we would solve this problem once and for all.
8. Indeed, the CEO of this best football pitch construction and maintenance company in Morocco we met with is a woman and even the stadium manager of their national stadium in Rabat is also a woman and they are absolutely on top of their game.. this clearly shows his institutionalized the specialist pitch maintenance program has reached in Morocco and how far they have come.. it's really a delight to see this really...