Categories: Featured, Football, General, Sports Development
Written By: Segun Odegbami
I did not know him or anything about him until he became commissioner of works in the government of Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Even then I did not have a personal encounter with the man even if his reputation preceded him everywhere. It was almost mystical. He was described by those that knew him as a fanatical workaholic! Since he became governor of Osun State, I am told, no one in the state has had a dull moment. When the invitation came for me to pay him a visit some weeks ago it came as a pleasant surprise. So to Oshogbo I went to meet with Rauf Aregbesola. What a time I had.
Even at three in the morning when we finally met in his home his eyes were sharp and bright. No trace of the fatigue from meetings that had gone on all day and night with different groups all determined and eager to see him. He wanted to share his thoughts about a novel idea he had. He admitted he was not your usual football follower even though he had known about me and my football exploits since our days as students in the same institution in Ibadan. Since then he has followed my career and my writings through the years.
His idea concerns the great Shooting Stars Football Club. Why can we not have a team like Shooting Stars in Nigeria that had a large fanatical followership of millions of mainly Yoruba’s all over the world become a mega club like Manchester United FC, Zamalek FC of Egypt or even FC Barcelona of Spain? He is interested to hear my view about his ‘crazy’ idea of creating mega clubs in Nigeria instead of the poorly funded mushroom teams particularly in the South West zone of Nigeria. He wants the South-West to show the rest of the country how to achieve this dream.
He remembers the original Shooting Stars FC as a movement of the entire Yoruba race everywhere in the world. Fragmentation of the South-West into several smaller States broke up the followership of the club. He sees the present South West cultural and economic integration plans as a great opportunity to promote the possibility of one or two mega Clubs in the region funded by the contribution by all the States in the zone with the eventual benefits of running the mega Clubs shared in kind and cash equally amongst them. Such an idea will fit into the agenda of the region and their combined resources will ensure that the club’s followership astronomically increases across the zone and beyond, the best players from around the country and the continent can be bought, assembled and paid very well, ownership of the club will be thrown open to the expanded public in the zone, the national league will become better and bigger, the best coaches from any part of the world can be hired, and a mega team that can compete with the best teams in the world can be built!
My mind is racing. What kind of a weird idea is this? How can the 5 or 6 South West States agree to support only one team? Some already have their own State teams what happens to those teams? On the surface it looks like an idea that would not even take off not to talk of fly. The governor insists I think more about his idea. The details of how it will work will be considered later. What he wants is an examination of the concept! I start to think about it. It looks impossible from a distance but the more I think about it the more I see faint outlines of a truly unique concept and vision. Nigeria could decide to create mega clubs in different parts of the country instead of the mushrooming of many small teams that has achieved little for the country in the global football scene. State boundaries will diminish. Hands of friendship and cooperation will be stretched across the States.
If the idea can crystallise it can really work. What happens to the smaller State teams? I do not know. But one or two big teams in the South-West representing the homogenous peoples of the region cannot be a bad idea at all. One or two clubs in other zones with their combined resources to drive them will create bigger teams and a bigger league. Wow! I like this. Your Excellency, I have thrown this into the public space for some critical reactions. Lets wait and see what the people have to say!