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Why we rejected Lulu's $750-Vanzekin

Posted by By HUMPHREY CHUKWUEDO, Abuja on 2007/02/21 | Views: 1018 |

Why we rejected Lulu's $750-Vanzekin

The fear of poverty has be cited as reason why the Nigerian Dream Team rejected the $750 winning bonus offered by the Nigeria Football Association (NFA).

The fear of poverty has be cited as reason why the Nigerian Dream Team rejected the $750 winning bonus offered by the Nigeria Football Association (NFA).

“We do not want to suffer, like some of our predecessors, after our playing career,” goalkeeper Ambrose Vanzekin said in an emotion-laden voice in Abuja, after the Under-23 team pummelled their Equatorial Guinea counterparts 5–0 at the Abuja National Stadium.

“In football you live your tomorrow today and, for that reason, we want to get every due now to save us from penury when we quit active football. This informed our resolve not to be treated like kids by the NFA when it comes to the issue of allowances and match bonuses.”

Still raging, the goalie added: “The NFA knows that a footballer’s career hardly lasts for more than 15 years, and that is if he is not forced out by injury early in his career. So when we insisted on being paid $2,000, it was due to the fact that we felt we deserved to be paid that much, being the next team to the Super Eagles.”

Assistant captain of the national Under-23 team, Vanzekin told Daily Sunsport that they have tales of unfulfilled pledges and they did not want to take chances, adding that stories are making the rounds on how some top shots of the NFA have enriched themselves at the expense of the players and they do not want to fall victims.

“We had to put up resistance because most of the pledges that were made to us have never seen the light of day. We had the feeling that somebody was using us to get-rich-quick, which is not good. How can they pay players, some of who are members of the Super Eagles, a paltry $750? It is not fair and we want to see that it does not happen again.

“Actually, it is only natural that being the next in hierarchy to the Super Eagles so, if the senior Eagles are paid $5000 as match bonus then we have to be paid something within the range of half that amount,” the Akwa United safe hands stated.

Vanzekin also added that if not for the way the NFA Chairman, Alhaji Sani Lulu, had painstakingly explain to them, the rift would still have been on. However, He said they were now relieved knowing the truth about the financial strength of the football board.

The Afuze-born goal tender further disclosed that since most of the players were not advanced in education they had to fight for the bonus, as they are investing the money for the rainy days. He pointed out that they would not want to be like their predecessors, who were rejected and forgotten by Nigerians when they could no longer wear the national colours. So, they would want something to fall back on when such a time comes, and not to live on the mercy of Nigerians.

“You see, Nigerians are a funny lots, they would be happy with you only when the going is good. Most of us did not have the privilege of going to school so the little we have, we invest. This is because we don’t want to end up like our seniors. Some of our old players who can no longer play active football are now rejected by Nigerians and, since they have little or no foresight, they are now living from hand-to-mouth.

“Now that we are in our prime we must utilise our income, and not spend lavishly. We are not going to let some other persons enjoy the sweat of our labour.”
Vanzekin thanked Sani Lulu, on behalf of his team-mates, for his courage in explaining the financial plight of the football body. He also called on the NFA boss to help them redeem the promises made to them.

An Israeli-based defender and a member of the Dream Team, Adefemi Olubayo, added that players’ zeal to secure a good future for themselves had informed their motives to naturalise in some other countries.

Venting his anger on the multinational companies and individuals that had made irredeemable promises to them, following their outstanding performances at the 2005 FIFA Junior World Cup in Holland, he said that the players were just used by these companies as advert models.
“I don’t really blame all those players and athletes that naturalised in other countries, or shunned national calls, it is because if you give Nigeria all your best, they don’t appreciate you, they will always look for a way to cut short your fees and, afterall, they don’t have retirement plans for these players,” he blasted.

Reeling out names of their debtors, Olubayo disclosed that they were each promised a plot of land by the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, in 2005 and it has not yet been redeemed. Globacom also promised each of them N500,000, which has to be redeemed.
In supplication to the chairman of the football association, Olubayo said the Samson Siasia-led team had delegated some of their team-mates to remind the telecommunication giants to redeem their pledges, but were told to present any high ranking official of the NFA as a surety before attention is granted them.

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