BENEFITS OF AFCON 2013 WIN: More West African Players Migrate to Top Teams Around The World

This is the concluding part of Bonaventure McDonalds’ Interview with me. Bonaventure McDonalds is a Sports Researcher at Colorado University, Chicago. He is currently studying the trends of African Football, and he had an online Interview with me on Google+ Hang out.  The interview session was so insightful I thought I should share the chat thread with you.

Mcdonald:  What does AFCON victory and current FIFA ranking portend for Nigeria and the entire West Africa Countries?

Chukwueke: Nigeria success and the Dominance of West Africa teams in the just concluded AFCON tournament portend good things to come. It's a great public relation tool that would draw so much attention to the region; especially in the area of football business.

It would strengthen the migration of West African Players into top teams around the world. It would lead to many affiliations between foreign organizations and local businesses in West Africa. Consequently, it would create wealth and eradicate poverty in many family units in the region.

Mcdonald:  You said the development of football academies in the region is one reason West African teams dominated AFCON 2013. How many academies are there in West Africa?

Benson Chukwueke, Publisher Of Cheer On Nigeria
Chukwueke: There are many unregulated football academies scattered around West Africa. But we have only few standard ones that are responsible for the development and turning of talents into big stars. ASEC Mimosa football academy in Ivory Coast, Pepsi football academy and Kwara state football academy both in Nigeria, then Feyerood football academy in Ghana... We hope to see more academies spring up in the region in the near future.

Mcdonald:  So Can you estimate how many unregulated academies are in West Africa?

Chukwueke: It's difficult to estimate the number. Some of them are not really academies per say, they're mere grassroots 'boys clubs' - without trained instructors and personnel. They are not affiliated to any of the National football associations and aren't registered to operate in any way.

Mcdonald:  Then, how many players leave, and how many succeed or don't find a team in Europe or Asia?

Chukwueke: Data is one big problem in West African football, especially in Nigeria. We don't have enough data as to how many players migrate abroad.

The migration process isn't coordinated. Players are desperate to travel and ply their football career abroad. So many use the back door to travel and collect their International Transfer Certificate (ITC). So there is no record for such migrations.

However, only few succeed because some players travel without proper invitation and may find themselves in teams that doesn't need them at that time. Moreover, some of the players aren't that developed to go through tryout tests in some of these big teams. So they find themselves back in their country. Some even get stranded abroad.

Mcdonald:  How better enforcement of FIFA regulation might keep more talented players in Nigeria for a couple of years before they move on to a higher league abroad?

Chukwueke: Well, I think that's how it should be, but am not sure that will work now West Africa region would be the focus of teams around the world. Although some Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) officials have already moved a motion that players must play in the domestic league at least 2 years, before they can be transferred to a higher league in Europe or Asia.

It's easier for players that have played for the National team to get a better team abroad. Players like: Sunday Mba, Godfrey Oboabona, Ruben Gabriel etc are more likely to get a better deal with teams in Europe or Asia.

But there are problems of poor wages and lot of breach of contracts between local clubs and players - sign on fees and salaries are not paid as contracted. So local teams have no moral justification to hold back players. In fact, players prefer to even travel to countries like Malta, Vietnam, Bangladesh... as places with greener pastures.

Mcdonald:  Do you think with the win at AFCON 2013, there will be more fan interest in Nigeria Premier League (NPL) games?

Chukwueke: I wish it could be so. But Nigeria success at AFCON may not influence fans response or attendance at NPL games. Nigeria fans now watch English Premier League (EPL) at the stadium next door. The viewing centers are so close to them and are more convenient for them to go in and out.

NPL is like a bad brand in Nigeria. So the new Interim Management Committee (IMC) should do much more of image laundry to change the perception of football consumers about the league. They should address issues of Match fixing, Boardroom points, Opponent and Referees molestations, inordinate postponement of Match schedules...

I think what AFCON win will do is to strengthen the migration of domestic players. More scouts, club representatives and Agents will turn their searchlight towards Nigeria and the entire West African region.

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