Maurice Cooreman is the longest serving Foreign coach in Nigeria. The 73 years old Belgian arrived in Nigeria in 1998, with a UEFA license as a youth football developmental coach and for 11years now, he has served as head coach in 11 clubs and traveled all round Nigeria - from the North with Kaduna United...to the West with Ikorodu United...then in the East with Gabros and Enyimba...and in the South with Ocean boys and now Akwa United. Cooreman is vastly experienced and is worth listening to.
Foreign coaches often come to Nigeria unprepared. They just find a job with a football club hoping to establish their presence on the local scene, but are met with the surprise of a not so regulated and controlled football industry.
Most teams are own by their state government and doesn't operate like real professional football clubs. Contracts are not respected...the coaches remunerations are not paid as at when due and welfare packages are jostled without any clear transparency.
Lack of proper funding, poor facilities, cultural and language barriers, lack of industry experts and professionalism do cause the coaches many headaches and consequently, woeful performances.
Indeed, Nigeria football has come a long way to establish a truly international brand for its national teams: Super Eagles, Dream team, Golden Eaglets, Super Falcons... Dominating U16 football at the world level and also dominating women's football at the African contintental level. Won Olympic Men Soccer Gold, Sliver and Bronze respectly.
Over 19 foreign coaches had gone through managing the men's national team in particular and acting as technical advisers to all the other national teams. now we have the 20th in German Gernot Rohr. Only few like Otto Gloria, Clemence Westerhof and perhaps, Johannes Bonfrere were able to achieve some level of success. There were more tale of woes, disaffection between the administrators and the foreign coaches that usually cause them to under perform at most cases.
Foreign Coaches, often referred to as journeymen, come and go in a shortwhile, but there' s one foreigner who remained to build a career and a personal brand...as the most prominent foreign coach in Nigeria. He name is Maurice Cooreman.
The Belgian tactician arrived in Nigeria in 1998 as a youth developmental coach, but got his first appointment in the Nigerian elite football league with Bendel Insurance in 2001. And for over 16 years now the Belgian, who is now referred as a "white Nigerian," has coached 11 clubs in Nigeria. Namely Lobi Stars, Gabros International, 2005 NPA, 2006 Ocean Boys, 2006–2008 Enyimba, 2009–2012 Kaduna United F.C., 2012 Warri Wolves, 2012–2014 Gombe United, 2015 Ikorodu United F.C., and now Akwa United F.C. He is married to a Nigerian woman.
How did Cooreman remain where other foreign coaches dreaded..."You got to prepare your mindset, Nigeria is a developing football industry and I made up my mind to be part of the growth and development of the structures at the local league level in particular."
"It can't never be the money, more of the passion and self fulfillment... Of course, you always jostle between satisfaction and dissatisfaction in this Job. Maybe at the national team level, foreign coaches earn between $10,000 and as much as $50,000 per month in some cases. But it is much more lower at the club level. Clubs here doesn't have structure and capability to consistently pay coaches $10, 000 a month." Cooreman explained.
"It is much more better today than when I first arrived here. The NFF and LMC are putting in a lot of work to create the right structures to change the quasi-professional league we have here today. I have stayed in this country for over 11years and travelled from North to South, East to West...as well as the mid - west... and I can tell you that the league is improving, things are changing gradually now.
For a foreign coach planning to come over to Nigeria... It will be a matter of preparing his or her mindset. You are coming to be part of the development and you can be sure the terrain will be like Europe or some grown leagues in Asia. Understanding and accepting how things work here and deciding to be part of the change, especially if you want to build a career here.