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Sunday Dare and the Nigerian league, the real big achievement

Sunday Dare’s era as minister of sports has come and gone, except if his political godfather, the incumbent President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu decides to re appointment, which is not out of place.

Few days after taking a bow some stakeholders in the sports industry celebrated the Agbaakin of Ogbomosho land for his laudable achievements.

Some of those who gathered to pop champagne for SAD as he is fondly called include respected ex international Segun Odegbami, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye, Senator Obinna Ogba, Ikedi Isiguzor , Dan Amokachi just to mention a few.

When Dare’s achievements in sports are reeled out, the performance of Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume etc are what readily come to the lips of many. Another is Dare’s Adopt an Athlete policy and the efforts he made to get the corporate world to refurbish the Abuja and Lagos National Stadiums as well as the NIS in Lagos.

Fine, these are laudable achievements, but the real big achievement which several stakeholders have rightly acknowledged is the revamping of the nation’s domestic league. Getting the league out of the woods could be said to be Dare’s most solid legacy.

And not a few persons have acknowledged this much.

Former NFF president, Aminu Maigari said the beauty of the league is that it has become competitive with teams now winning away from home.

Segun Odegbami has also acknowledged that the league is getting better, just like Dr Felix Owolabi, Tijani Babangida and Yakubu Aiyegbeni.

Aiyegbeni and Babangida who graced the Super 6 draw were both full of praise for the IMC with Aiyegbeni describing it as a new dawn for Nigerian football.

The return of the league on television is one move which Dr Felix Owolabi was particularly excited about.

“With the way IMC is going, our football will bounce back. I am happy the game is back on television. We are now seeing the matches on Super Sports,” Owolabi said.

Eddy Donbraye another former Nigerian international while speaking on the league stated… “I’m highly impressed with what I have seen so far here. The organisation is wonderful, and the fans and team officials are behaving very well. I look forward to more improved football in the country.”

“I can tell you that with what I have seen, it will be easy to encourage more sponsors to invest in the local league as is done in Europe and South America. GTI and IMC must be commended for repackaging the Nigeria league and there’s the need to keep the momentum going.”

Super Eagles manager, Peseiro who has been watching the Super 6 has also thumbed up the league insisting that he sees the league improving with the job the IMC is doing.

Celestine Babayaro has also lent his weight behind the yeoman’s job the IMC is doing just like Anambra FA boss Chikelue Iloenyosi.

Iloenyosi who is in Lagos to be part of the on going Super 6 said it is now the country is playing the league. Iloenyosi said he has personally spotted 10 players who are capable of making Peseiro’s squad declaring that the era when we relied only on the foreign legion should be over.

It would be noted that the nation’s domestic league for over a decade was gone. Under, the former league body, LMC what we had was a cash and carry domestic league. It showed in the shambolic performance of Nigerian teams in the continent.

Dare took the bull by the horn, cleared the Augean Stable and took bold steps to revive the nation’s domestic league. He not only sacked

the former league body but went for credible Nigerians who can get the job done in the interim body (IMC) which he constituted.

Today, our league is enjoying a new lease of life which everybody is celebrating and applauding. For the very first time we have seen in 2023 what can be called a league…a race that is now ending with the on going play off of six teams at the Onikan waterfront.

Virtually every stakeholder has given the Gbenga Elegbeleye led IMC a pass mark which informed why the NFF said they would not be part of the league bodies to be reconstituted…as they say in football, nobody changes a winning team.

So for me, to talk about Dare’s achievements without giving a prominent mention to the league is like talking about an omelette without mentioning the egg. Kudos must be given to the former sports minister for “bringing back our league.”