ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLERS IN NIGERIA: Ask Every Nigerian Player to Get Cover under this Umbrella

In 2010, Gideon Godwin was ban from participating in any football league in Nigeria because he took laws into his hands. Godwin who was then with Dolphin FC, took some thugs to harass his former club; Sunshine stars team managers in their hotel room in Port Harcourt.

The Akure based club owed Godwin a whole year salary in 2009 and wouldn’t pay. So, he wanted to get his money by holding their managers’ hostage – that was wrong!  As it is said, “two wrongs cannot make a right.”

But Godwin’s case is one out tens of players in various Nigerian clubs that are subjected to a kind of ‘work no pay’ conditions and none of them could get any reprisals from anywhere.

It’s difficult for an individual player to fight his own course alone in Nigeria football. He’s likely to be blacklisted or probably, banished if he makes the wrong move just like Godwin. This is the reason every professional footballer in Nigeria should come together into one umbrella body to fight their course.

Only if you belong to Association of Professional Footballers in Nigeria (APFON) will you be covered!

But does APFON really have the muscle to fight for their course? Well, not many pro-footballers in Nigeria have confidence in the Association. Some players even fear that their club managers may indict them if they found out they belong to an Association seen as a pressure group.

According to the Secretary General of the Association, Austin Popo, “Many Nigerian footballers may feel so because they are not aware or informed of what APFON is already doing to alleviate the plights of professional footballers in Nigeria.”

“Take for instance; APFON took up the case of Olanrewaju Kayode’s transfer logjam to expose the illegal rackets of Taiwo Ogunjobi. We pressured NFF to ban its former Secretary General for 10 good years. Popo claimed.

Fighting Against Non-payment of League Players Remunerations:
“You see, not many are aware that APFON had been in the forefront of the campaign against non-payment or delayed payment of players in Nigeria leagues. Today, LMC had put up a policy that every club in the Glo Premier League must submit a bank guaranty of N100 million, which will cover about 80% of players salary for the season. We’re also working together with NNL, NWL to achieve the same fit in all our league divisions.” Popo Explains.

Fighting to Alleviate the Plights of Ex-footballers:
“APFON is also spearheading the campaign to alleviate the very pathetic plights of ex-footballers in this country. We’ve been taking the campaign to NFF and to some state governors. We’re happy that it is yielding result. Some governor like Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State and Emmanuel Udughan of Delta state had responded well. They had both donated money to pay hospital bills of some the sick ex-footballers as well as employed some into their state sports projects.” Popo Continued.

Funding APFON
“Funding has been a major issue that has limited the operations of APFON. We’re looking at every Nigerian professional footballer at home or abroad to be actively involved in our pursuit for their good.”

Players Subscriptions: “We’re targeting that every professional footballer in Nigeria pay a yearly subscription or membership fee to APFON. We’ve started players advocacy drive to educate players and club management on the benefits of APFON.  We’re working on arrangement where fees could be transferred directly from clubs to our account by the players’ standing order.”

Partnership with Footballers Abroad: “we’re also looking at professional footballers abroad paying premium membership fees and also taking up sponsorship of some of our projects. We’re hoping to build closer relationship with our players abroad. We’ll be sending them partnership proposals for all our running projects.”

FIFA Grants to NFF: “We believe APFON should benefit from grants NFF receives from FIFA, since we are involved in players’ welfare. We’ve started discussions with NFF regarding this matter and we hope it respond positively.

Fund Raising Programs: “Of course, we organize fund raising programs and events such as ‘players’ union match’ – all stars games and charity games – where VIP tickets and donations are encouraged.”

“We also organize ‘Captains’ Conference’ – where captains of industries come to palely with club captains on matters affecting football business and entertainment in Nigeria. We use such palely to encourage Corporate organizations to take up some of our projects as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

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