MANAGING TEAM NIGERIA: The Role Of Player Relations In Building A Solid Super Eagles Team

I think we're loosing our football strength in both ways: when a coach decide not to use the best legs the country has at a time or on the other hand, when the best legs are not giving their best performance to the national team. Something is definitely wrong somewhere or rather something is missing. This is one of the reasons why Super Eagles is having a free fall in FIFA ranking. The "big players" as it were, are always in logger ahead with either the coach or Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

It's not a new phenomenon, you can trace it as far back in Nigerian football history. Although, Stephen Keshi is now Super Eagles coach, he had been in the same quagmire during his time as one of the biggest player in Nigeria. Perhaps, you can easily remember the Sunday Oliseh and Finidi George debacle with NFA, that led Festus Onigbinde to assemble a lackluster Super Eagles team to 2002 world cup. I cannot easily forget that picture of frustration on Taribo West face when he cried out, "This is not our best team..."

Do we ever have our best team or best players playing with one team spirit. Take for instance, Keshi is not calling up players like, Mikel Obi, Osaze Odewingie, Yakubu Ayiegbeni... Undoubtedly, Mikel Obi is the biggest player Nigerian has today. But you may not understand why he cannot be used to strengthen the Super Eagles with all the experiences he has garnered as a first team player of Chelsea FC, winners of UEFA champions league 2011.

We've thought that the solution is to just discard the uncommitted foreign based players. Well, our home based players seem humble and hungry for success because they are "small time players" and may not be bold enough to speak out. But as soon as the same players find their way to top flight football in Europe their attitude change towards the national team.

It's always been so, players accuse the coaches and NFF of betrayal and corruption, while coaches and NFF on the other side, accuse the foreign based professionals of insubordination - indiscipline and non-challant attitude towards the national team. It has resulted to a broken down relationship between players and managers of the national team. The foreign based players has seen how football teams are managed abroad, but couldn't get similar operational method in Nigeria. One key role that is missing or taken for granted is the role of player relationship management. It's a human resource portfolio, but very important in building a solid team in any workplace environment.

This is why coaches abroad are called managers. There portfolio is extended to recruit and manage players relationship in the team. But in some cases, a professional with strong background in human resource management and public relations is recruited to specifically manage the relationship between players and team managers. In the case of Super Eagles, I strongly advice that we quickly hire a seasoned professional to manage and rebuild a solid team spirit in Super Eagles.

Four Steps NFF Should Take to Re-building A Solid Super Eagles Team Spirit.

1. Create a Player Relationship management Portfolio: Recruit a seasoned professional to manage player relationship issues with team managers. Organize continuous player relationship refresher course for coaching crew as well as NFF personnel.

2. Re-position The Super Eagles Brand: Super Eagles managers should deliver to the players what they promise, to make them perceive the team right and take pride in adorning the green-white-green jersey at all time.

3. Outline Players Benefits in Advance and Deliver them: Give players a sense of belonging by giving great welfare package. They should be properly insured against injury and accident as well as rewarded generously. Let players know in advance what they will benefit risking their career for the national team.

4. Go On Missionary Visits to Support Players: Super Eagles managers should always go on well strategic missionary visits to see how our key players are faring. They should always give support to players when they have issues with their careers or with their foreign clubs, especially when they are injured.

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