BusinessDay

My agenda is to create policies that will drive football development in Nigeria – Adegbenro

Ayodeji Adegbenro, a seasoned sports administrator with almost two decades of experience, is contesting to get on the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as a representative of the Southwest Zone. He speaks of his plans to create policies that will drive grassroots football development in Nigeria if elected. Seyi John Salau brings the excerpts:

People see you as inexperienced or too young for the post you are contesting, do you agree with that?

That is not entirely correct. I am young but not inexperienced; I have been in Sports Management for almost two decades, and professionally for ten years. That’s enough experience in my opinion.

My experience cuts across all boards. I have managed football at the school level, grassroots level, elite level, public, private, and international football organisations.

Speaking further about my experience, I started as Head of Football at C.O.D United in 2012, I then joined Ondo State Football Agency as Deputy Director of Marketing and Corporate Affairs in 2014.

In the last 6 years, I have coordinated LaLiga’s project and helped implement its strategy in Nigeria and Ghana, which have led to an increase in its brand awareness and visibility and all these experiences will be put to bear if elected.

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What is your agenda if elected?

My agenda is to help create and implement policies that will enable the development of football in Nigeria. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we just have to course correct, we have to start doing things the right way conforming to global best practices, and implementing a bottom-to-top approach.

Southwest used to be a centre for football attraction, but that has declined in the last decades, how do you intend to reignite that passion?

For the Southwest, we have to focus on the grassroots and ensure that all the states have viable state and local leagues that run all year round. We have to ensure the coaches at the grassroots level are well trained and equipped to enable them to deliver on the tasks of developing the talents at that level.

What are your chances of being elected to the NFF board looking at the weight of other contestants?

I believe I stand a good chance of getting on board, I have been speaking to the members of the NFF Congress and other relevant stakeholders, trying to get them to buy into this vision, the feedback is encouraging, the process is challenging but the goal is very achievable.

Football administration has been a major challenge; how do you intend to tackle this problem?

I think a major problem with football administration in Nigeria is misplaced priorities, we focus on the wrong things and issues to the detriment of the core mandate of the administrators.

What are you going to do differently if elected to the NFF Board?

Create policies that build from the group up. Right now, we pay too much attention to the top level of our football and ignore the grassroots. You can’t build a house from the roof, you have to start from the foundation, it’s this foundation that serves as a base and supports the roof. The spectacular collapse we are witnessing at the top of our football is due to years of neglect of the base of the pyramid.

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