Chronic Football Improvisation!

Cameroon’s national Under-23 football team will be engaging the return leg qualifier for the next All Africa Games with a goal down. The boys were beaten 1-0 by their peers of Zimbabwe during the first leg game played last weekend in Harare.

They will need to beat the Zimbabweans in Yaounde by at least a two-goal margin to hope for a place in the sun. In football, like in any other sports, victory and defeat are bedfellows. But what matters most is how the victory or defeat is attained. As a matter of fact, the Under-23 Lions did not receive the needed treatment for a team that is results-driven. From their build-up for the match right up to the eve, the boys had everything but a morale booster.

Their training was, to say the least, not adapted to a match of that nature. According to the trainer, Pierre Ndjili Ndengue, the team’s training was suspended two days after takeoff. Even when the match was already programmed and the team notified one month earlier, it could only train for one week under approximate conditions. But, the worst was yet to come. When they finally left for Harare, Zimbabwe, they were halted at the Jomo-Kenyatta international Airport in Kenya for two days for want of efficient flight arrangements. Reports say they had no match bonuses, in fact nothing that could permit the supposed ambassadors to comfortably fly the national colours. Results: They got to Harare too late, tired and confused to better prepare for the match. They at best had only reconnaissance training time enough to discover the arena, as it is a rule in football. Surprisingly, they conceded only one goal, but which could be deadly in the return game.

This may sound banal to people who have been following up sporting activities in the country of late. That a national selection has not travelled for a major competition or that they get there hours or minutes to their opening games are no longer news in the country again. Improvisation has found a very soft spot in the country, especially in a domain like sports wherein competitions are programmed well ahead of time and competing nations and teams notified as such. Either people who have little or nothing to do with the game are better catered for than the athletes or the actors are abandoned to themselves once it is ascertained that the selfish desires of officials are not readily guaranteed. Perpetrators see only what they would gain rather than the image of the country that is greatly tarnished when such selfishness or amateurism in sports management is left to prevail. This is unacceptable for a nation that has gained international repute thanks to sports and football in particular.

It is said that the Under-23 Lions’ saga right from Kenya to Harare provided good material for local tabloids in Zimbabwe to hit the newsstands. After all, the media thrive in unusual happenings. Curiously, a Head of State’s decree on the management of national selections is still very fresh in the archives of the national gazette. It spells out the roles of all stakeholders. Unfortunately, the very stakeholders behaved prior to the Zimbabwean expedition as if they were discovering the match instantly. Failing to plan, they say, is planning to fail. The fruits are there for anyone to see not only from the recent happening but also from others in the past all of which have left serious image-batteries on the country.

Many are certainly pondering over why such a neglect for a team, call it ‘The Hope’ or better still, “Les Espoirs” in French, who are supposed to serve as a relay for the senior national selection. As much as the improvisation thrives, certainly borne out of noticeable impunity here, thought should at least be given to the country that almost everybody, including even perpetrators of such damaging acts, claim to serve. Cameroon today gnashes its teeth in trophy drought that has hit the country for long now. But little or nothing can be won in improvisation. There is therefore need to part ways with bad old habits that profit some people at the detriment of a nation and common interest, especially in highly competitive sectors like sports.

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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