Former Green Eagles’ winger, Adegoke Adelabu has attributed the problem facing the nation’s sports to ‘misplaced priorities’ on the part of the people saddled with the responsibility of developing the sport.
For the eighth day, players of the victorious Super Falcons are protesting in Abuja over non-payment of camp allowances and winning bonuses for their participation at the 10th African Women Nation’s Cup in Cameroun, which they won. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is also said to owe the coaches nine months salaries. The protesting players have refused to hand over the trophy they won in Cameroun to the NFF.


Adelabu, who was part of the Green Eagles’ squad to Libya ’82 African Nations Cup, told The Guardian yesterday that the high degree of challenges facing the nation’s sports is an indication for capacity development.

“One of the greatest factors that drives sport all over the world (the economy of talents) has become the major obstacle to our development because of misplaced priorities on the part of Nigerian sports administrators.

“Recently, we heard about the tragedy in Brazil, when a plane conveying a football team crashed; imagine those players of blessed memory not haven been paid salaries and allowances for several months? This is how fragile life could be. Many of our players have sustained injuries in the past, which had wrecked their lives and careers. Yet we owe players salaries and allowance with impunity,” he stated.

Adelabu played for the then IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan in the mid 1980s. He said that sport is a big business platform, and there is no reason why majority of Nigerian athletes should be suffering after serving the nation or their clubs.

“Apart from few former players running soccer academies, which to me are substandard, but at least players have an avenue to showcase their talents. How many former athletes can you see with tangible businesses? Hardly can you get one! All of us do not have to go through the four walls of the university. Sport is a big business platform and there is no reason why majority of our athletes should be suffering after serving the nation or their clubs.

“We need to understand the concept of the Economy of Talents. These people have the potential capability to contribute to the economy of the nation by trading with their talents if they are properly managed.

This should stir up the interest of the government in this concept.”

Speaking further, Adelabu, a Sports Scientist said: “The question we need to ask ourselves is why do we subject athletes to training and competitions if not to build the economy through their talents? I think we are the only country in the world that always complain about money, while trading with the talents of our athletes. Our athletes have brought a lot of improvement to the way other nations perceive Nigeria. Hence, they deserve better compensation.

“Our sport should be packaged (marketed) in such a way that will reflect how people would like to see it before they can buy into it. This will require a high level of intelligent presentation of the objectives of each game, the transformation they are going to bring to the lives of the athletes, the competitive atmosphere and the resultant effect on the emotional appetite of the people to seek for more. Everyone is crazy about Premiership and others, why can we not be like that?”

According to Adelabu, the development of a sport is reflected in nation’s ability to modify the training, participation and competitive strategy of the athletes. “This brings me to the issue of our inhuman approach to the way we manage our athletes; which consequently affect their long-term production capacity. How can someone playing for the national team complain of unpaid allowances? That is a crime against human dignity. Athletes’ economy is based on the value placed on their performances. When you don’t pay allowances, what you are saying is that they are of no value.

“Despite the fact that we have won so many competitions in the past and present, it does not reflect in our cognitive approach to sport development, hence we do not have the basis upon which subsequent development will take place. We need to be able to scientifically analyse or enumerate our process goals, because they will help us to account for our outcome goals. It is a good way of managing the productive capacities of our athletes.”

The former IICC Shooting Stars winger further said: “We need to admit that we have problems and there should be the willingness to deal with them and not just take advantage of the system to enrich ourselves. Though we are competing in various competitions, but we are in recession in the economy of our talents. All our athletes must be packaged in such a way that they will be useful to themselves when they retire from active sports.”