It
was difficult to wake up on Tuesday morning when you consider the journey of Monday,
and the time we slept on arrival.
But
wake we had to and after breakfast next up was light training at the Valencia
CF club house/ training pitch as well as a tour of facilities and lecture.
What a mighty God
we serve
The
Valencia CF base was a total beauty. I felt the same way when I visited Club
Africain’s training center in Tunis in 2015, but this one… you just had to see
it.
It
was like the old hip hop song, “Things that make you go hmmm”
Things
like this make you ask if we are running football in Nigeria or just playing matches
every week to contest for three points.
The
facility had club offices, a conference room, a media center and most of all
twelve practice pitches made up of six five a side pitches and six full size
pitches.
While
some of their youth teams trained on some of the pitches, we were given pitch 3
to hold our session.
Salisu
told the players there would be nothing serious about the training; just jog
around, do some exercises and then ball work.
He
ended by saying, “Go out there and enjoy yourselves.”
The twelve lap run

Doing my 12 lap run

While
the boys started doing their laps I decided to join them. Truth is that for the
past nine weeks I’d been diligently doing 45 minute to one hour runs three days
a week and didn’t want this trip to Spain to cut it short.
At
first I wanted to join up with the boys since their pace was as slow as it
gets; at least I wouldn’t exhaust myself quickly, but Ike Shorunmu beckoned on
me to keep my distance which was normal as I was not part of the team, neither
was I dressed like them.

I
took one half of the pitch and did eight laps on it then the final six laps was
the full perimeter of the pitch and when I was done with that I knew I was good
enough to make Salisu Yusuf’s team even though he politely told me that he
would have considered me if only I added two more laps. WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES!!!
The lecture
After
that a member of the Valencia group gave a lecture to the club chairmen present
on the structure of their club, Valencia and why they do things the way they
do.
The
lecture clearly outlined who they are as a club, what their philosophies are,
how they recruit players and coaches and what their targets are.
One
thing the resource person said that stood out for me was that Valencia as a
team do not have a target to win the league. Rather their target is to compete
and make their fans happy.
According
to him their target is to finish in top 4 every season and play in the
Champions league.
Then
he said something else that they are not as big as Real Madrid or Barcelona and
anytime they play against “these two monsters” they expect to lose home and
away.
He
however added that their fans know this but expect them to compete which they
do and that’s how they won at the Nou Camp last season and against Real Madrid two
seasons ago.
He
said whenever they come up against Madrid or Barcelona their fans just expect
them to be brave and put up a good fight.
Compare
this to the Nigerian League where a club, like, say, Ikorodu United, MFM, Lobi
Stars or Shooting Stars tell you at the start of the season that their target
is to win the title, thereby disrespecting big clubs like Enyimba, Kano Pillars
and Rangers International.
In
Nigeria, Ikorodu United think they can beat Enyimba or Kano Pillars, give their
fans high expectations and when they lose they resort to violence.
After
that lecture, it was obvious that we do not run clubs in Nigeria, no we don’t. All
we do here is prepare to play league matches every weekend.
But
hopefully these would change with a bit more effort from the club chairmen, the
league and of course the owners of these clubs which are the state governors.
The Pre Match Presser

After
all that it was time for the pre match presser and if I told you yesterday how
big these games were for the people in Spain, what I saw today really convinced
me.
It
was a packed media center with at least fifty journalists from radio, TV and
the rest present.
If
this wasn’t a big match for them then I wonder why there was not a single empty
seat in the press center.
The
coach of Valencia, Pako Ayesteran, who Liverpool fans may know from his days as
an assistant to Rafa Benitez seemed like he wanted to win that game.
I
asked Pako Ayesteran what the target of Valencia was for the season and how important
the game against the NPFL All Star side was as regards helping him attain their
target.
He
said their target was to finish in top 4 (another confirmation) and they need
every pre-season game to build the fitness of his players so they can be ready
when the league kicks off in ten days.
Late night groove
At
night we watched the Spanish Super Cup game between Real Madrid and Valencia
together. By “we” I meant Chief Nduka Irabor, Niyi Oyeleke, Harry Iwuala and
later Mallam Shehu Dikko. There were a couple of others there but I don’t remember
all the names.
While
most of the guys sipped beer from their cups, I just sat and watched the game.
Chief
Irabor asked me if I wasn’t interested in a beer.
Before
I could even let his question sink in and conjure up an answer, Harry Iwuala
went, “Don’t mind him. He doesn’t drink beer. If it’s not white wine he won’t
drink.”
Then
Harry began to tell the story of how we met in Abuja and I only did white wine
and nothing else.
Chief
looked at me, that expression on his face that you can’t even explain and went,
“Una dey brew white wine for Port Harcourt? Why must it be just white wine?”
and I simply said, “That’s what I drink o.”
Chief
now said it was good to see a person who decided to drink only one thing and be
disciplined about it.
Me,
I know I do not drink only one thing o. I drink tea, and coffee… okay we are
not talking of those kinds of drinks, abi? Oya, I drink palm wine, only when I see
one that if fresh enough and the way Nigeria is so corrupt, what are the
chances of seeing palm wine so fresh and undiluted?
I
also like to drink my pure, crisp water. Yes, I’m weird like that.
At
about eleven o clock, Mutui Adepoju turned up at the hotel. He was part of the
remainder of the delegation that left Nigeria a day after us. Good thing he was
around. The head master, we called him in his hey days.

Tomorrow,
we play our game against Valencia.

Day 3 Photo Splash

Lay out of the Valencia CF training ground

Every spare wall has a relic that reminds you of how big the club is

Lagos SWAN chairman, Fred Edoreh and Tunji Brown of Owu Sports

Lecture time

Shehu Dikko and Nduka Irabor chat with a Valencia CF Staff

Outside the Press room

Pre- match presser about to start

The boys gear up for training earlier

Short prayer before training

Stretching time

Pako Ayesteran and Salisu Yusuf

The packed media room


3 COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here