December 19, 2016

Larry Kubenji confirmed as Nigeria Footballers' acting president



The National Association of Nigeria Footballers has unanimously installed ex-international Larry Kubenji as it active president ending years of crisis rocking the players union's body.

Kubenji who was confirmed as acting president pending an election by the association's stakeholders in Lagos admitted Nigeria footballers have experienced hell owing to the protracted division among the players union but promised a new lease of life under his leadership.

"As a matter of fact, there is a parable that says that divided we fall, united we stand. It has been crises year after year," Kudenji told Goal after his confirmation.

"The past twenty-six years it has more been crises. It’s a process. Like when we formed the NANF, the objective was to ensure the welfare of Nigerian players. But somewhere along the line, a lot of interests started coming in like people having their own agenda, grade factor, and all things.

"Even for every nation, there is gestation period, there are processes you must go through, not talk of a group of young people who wants to make things better for themselves.

Aside lauding the efforts of ex-leaders in Harrison Jalla and Austin Popo, the former Green Eagles also praised the sacrifices of the NFF and LMC leaderships in ending it years of division.

"It’s a process but I think gradually we are beginning to get it right. Like the present NFF leadership, the present LMC leadership have been trying to talk with us all worrying factions, they believe it is the right time to shield our swords.

"They [the ex-players] have lost a lot because of the disunity. Again, besides the disunity, there are in the past people ordinarily without respect that ordinarily shouldn’t be football administrators.

"They are being thrown up by all kind of system, the politics in the country, people that don't even know what to do to know that footballers have a very short lifespan. When doctors, lawyers, engineers are maturing, becoming expect. Footballers get about 10 to 12 years to play as professional.

"After that, he falls back on nothing at the end of the day he starts scrapping the like I tell you, even up to today, there is no Nigerian playing in the domestic league that can afford to live a comfortable life.

"One, he is a product of a home where in the past parents don't allow their children to play football. Yes, it is only the people from a very poor background that are allowed to go the street and play football. Though everything is changing now.

"But you see we have to really go back to the past. Those who by the way of being given skills by God sometimes becomes the sole breadwinner of their families. How much are they earning that will enable them to sustain a whole family.

"These are some of the things we take into consideration there is so much suffering for the players – one. The enumeration is small, two – there is no system where footballers after retirement. Footballers have no afterlife as far as I am concerned.

"One of the basic ingredients of a successful league is when you have players who retire into the good life, but here the administrators got it all wrong. But like we are saying now, this is a new dawn this is a rebirth of what players union used to be in the past.

"We have realized our mistakes, we are going to come together, put things in place and make sure the players don't die in penury."



Credit: Miyen Akiri

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