I met Philip Obaji in Calabar
in 2007 as Dolphins FC played their CAF Confederation Cup games at
the UJ Esuene Stadium.

He had come to me with a
project he called, “Fans United against Violence” and handed a
promo CD over to me.

Warning! There’s a gory photo below!

I must confess I never watched
it because he didn’t even put up a strong argument when he spoke
with me.

A few years later, he came up
again with the same project, but a change of name. This time it made
sense and I decided to run with him/it.

It was 2010 and I was working
at Cool FM in Port Harcourt and after discussing with Femi Obong
Daniels we decided to support Philip Obaji’s “1 Game, Football
without violence”.

Why? There was too much
violence in viewing centers and League stadia and he thought a
campaign and more education would help reduce/ eradicate it
completely.

Now what has this got to do
with Online Sports Betting Companies? I will explain.

Scenario 1

On the night of May 27, 2009
after Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League final,
something happened in the town of Ogbo in Ahoada, Rivers State.

A Manchester United fan,
angered by the 2-0 loss drove his mini bus into a crowd of Barcelona
fans celebrating.

He killed 4 and injured at
least 10 others.

Scenario
2

On January 30, 2007 in the
Lagos suburb of Adeniji Adele on the Island, during a game between
Arsenal and Bolton Wanderers, Hakeem Salami, a Bolton Wanderers
supporter stabbed Sodiki Anjorin, 26, an amateur footballer and
ardent fan of Arsenal of London in the head with a knife.

This was as a result of a
bitter argument at a viewing center.


Scenario
3

In Gokana Local Government
Area of Rivers State, two communities, B-Dere and K-Dere were burnt
to the ground after an argument in a viewing center led to violence.

This led to the death of a
cleric.

Surprisingly, the bone of
contention that led to the killing and wanton destruction of property
was as a result of which English Premier League match should be shown
at a viewing centre owned by a youth from B-Dere.

B-Dere and K-Dere are supposed
to be one community, but the inhabitants preferred to be seen as two
communities demarcated by one tarred road.

No fewer than 50 youths, all
male, had gathered at the viewing centre to watch the EPL but trouble
started when some youths from the area showed interest in watching
the match between Aston Villa and Chelsea while others, who were
apparently Manchester United fans insisted on watching their team‘s
game against West Brom. The two matches were being played
simultaneously at 3pm that fateful Saturday.

It was, however, gathered that
the altercation that ensued prompted one of the youths, who is from
B-Dere to turn off the generator. But before he could come back to
ensure that peace reigned, a youth from K-Dere raised the alarm that
his mobile phone, which he was charging at the viewing centre, had
disappeared. The youths from K-Dere, who took the action of the
viewing centre operator as an affront, went haywire and began to set
buildings ablaze. Curiously, the act was selective as most of the
buildings torched belonged to the people of B-Dere. Not fewer than 60
houses were destroyed by the wild youths.

Worst still, a cleric from
B-Dere known as Mr. Kpoobe Boate was shot in the head at close range.
He died instantly.

Apart from that, two vehicles
– a jeep and a Mercedes Benz car – belonging to the Bishop of
Christ Army Church, Bishop Selebe Vurasi, were burnt beyond
recognition while his house was also razed by the youths.

Scenario
4

In Lagos, in 2010, one
Babatunde, a father of one, who graduated in 2009 from the Olabisi
Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, was murdered after
fighting allegedly broke out at the Zukada Hotel, Egbeda, Lagos,
after Chelsea and Barcelona played a 1-1 draw in their UEFA Champions
League semifinal match.

The hotel had facilities for
people to watch European matches.

Interestingly, Babatunde was a
Manchester United fan but he met his untimely death because his
friend, a Chelsea fan, had been involved in a bet. The Chelsea fan
escaped after the fight broke out and when the Barcelona supporters
could not find him, they caught Babatunde instead and over 20 people
were alleged to have pounced on him, stabbing him with broken
bottles. Even when he attempted to scale the fence of the hotel, his
assailants pulled him down and continued to stab him. Babatunde gave
up the ghost while he was rushed to the hospital.

I could go on and on, because
the scenarios abound, not only in viewing centers where European
League games are shown but in various Nigerian League stadia and when
Philip Obaji brought 1 Game, I embraced it and it is good to know
that it is now a very popular concept, at least in Rivers State where
I am based, but I digress.

Enter
the Online sports betting companies

At the start of the English
Premier League, EPL season this year, I was in Owerri with a friend,
Sanipe Damiete to watch a Nigerian League game between FC Papillo and
Go Round FC.

As we journeyed from Port
Harcourt to Owerri we followed the updates on live scores and were
shocked, especially how Chelsea was falling to Burnley.

When we got to the Dan Anyiam
Stadium, we saw a gathering of football fans discuss the Chelsea loss
and no one was hating on the club or trolling on rival fans, they
were all moaning about how much they lost that day because, Chelsea
cut their slip.

And Sanipe mentioned something
that I began to observe from that day on. He said people do not fight
in viewing centers any more over clubs because they were more
interesting in their winnings than anything else. They didn’t even
care the clubs they supported anymore.

According to Sanipe, people
these days were happy to see their clubs lose crucial games as long
as they won betting money.

Why will they fight over
clubs that don’t really know them when they can write their bet
slip together and win money,” Sanipe asked.

On Wednesday, September 13, I
watched the UEFA Champions League game between Liverpool and Chelsea
alongside Sanipe Damiete and FIFA referee, Mimi Iyorhe and Sanipe,
though a die hard Arsenal fan was praying for a Liverpool win because
that was what he put on his bet slip, something that would not have
happened 10 years ago.

Sanipe left disappointed that
Liverpool failed to win. A few years ago he would have been trolling
me and other Liverpool fans… Not anymore.

These days I
see fans of a club happy that a rival club won a big game simply
because they earned money from betting.

Who wants to fight these days
when you can win money?

Now, I know the religious
people have their reservations about betting, so do the
conservatives, but let us face it, we have had friendly atmospheres
at public viewing centers these days. Why fight when you can win
money and still be friends?

Rivers Angels, Edwin Okon
and the Nigerian coaching syndrome

Edwin Okon

There is something the average
Nigerian coach gets wrong and it is in the aspect of training
sessions and regimes for their teams.

I was at the Yakubu Gowon
Stadium for the AITEO/ Federation Cup game between Rivers Angels and
Edo Queens on Wednesday and I saw how the home side struggled to even
be part of that game all 90 minutes.

For a team that won 9-0 the
previous week, it was amazing, then I gathered it may have had to do
with fatigue.

The team had trained for 4
hours on Monday and another 3 hours on the eve of the game, but it
was not a Rivers Angels thing. Most Nigerian League coaches believe
the way out is to run about on the pitch, then divide the players
into two teams of eleven each and play for another two hours or more.

Sometimes, for the Nigerian
League coach, punishment for a home draw is more hours training the
next day and everyday until the next game. These people do not
realise they are doing more harm that good to their teams by focusing
more on physical exertion during the season rather than tactics and
technique.

In pre-season, you employ the
principle of progressive overloading because you need to work your
players back to shape. Here there is more emphasis is on fitness and
stamina and less on ball work/ team play. As it gets closer to the
start of the season, overloading reduces and more emphasis is placed
on ball work, tactics, team play etc.

In a game like football that
has a 7-9 month season, fatigue, injuries, illness etc comes into
play. Then there is the individual response of the players. So
coaches training twice daily, going 4 hours and 3 hours on eve of
games at the business end of the season does more harm than good to
their team.

I sent a word of advise to the
Rivers Angels coach on how to tone down his physical activity this
period but here he did not take the advise kindly and instead sent
the girls out to more running ahead of the 2nd leg against
Edo Queens.

No footballer loses form
during a season if he does not train for two days. Scientifically, it
is not possible, but the average Nigerian coach does not know this.
They would rather run the players ragged on the training pitch when
sometimes a rest will do the team more good.

I wish Rivers Angels, Edwin
Okon and the Nigerian league player the best of luck as they continue
to train under their coaches, but it brings me back to the same age
old argument.

We can talk down on the home
based players the much we can, but the vital question is- What kind
of coaching do they get?

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