By Abdulgafar Oladimeji
Thereis the saying that says, there is something good in goodbye.
Kano Stars fc pip Sabon Gari fc 1-0, last Friday at Kano Pillars stadium in the last match in G2B to mark the end of duels in the NLO 2023 group clashes in the two centres in Kano.
The ancient city of Kano played host to 18 teams 9 teams in each of the groups, namely G2A situated at Sani Abacha stadium and G2B matches hosted at Kano Pillars stadium.
Each team played eight matches to determine who comes top of the group to book a place for a playoff off, on 22nd May , in Dutse, Jigawa state capital.
Kano Pillars fc JNR topped G2A with 18 points from 8 matches with a close trail from arch rivals Kwankwasiyya United with four wins and four draws to keep vigil, on 16 points from 8 matches.
In G2B Kano Stars fc went top of the group to win a close fierce contest from Sabon Gari fc in a battle for supremacy that lasted up to the last Match Day.
A group competition that host nine clubs in two groups could not have ended without its peculiar challenges.
Some officiating officials were excused from further officiating in the league, most pronounced is the stoppage of father and son from officiating in the league.
The zenith of efforts to ensure free, fair and credible officiating is the marching order given to an AR 2,for unethical conduct, while the game was still on and was replaced by the RR.
The issue of Integrity Compliance brought to the fore how brutal Kano football politics could be, the football roof at the peak of football administration was almost pulled down by local forces at the expense of sanity, how the matter was manage by the league management is commendable.
Kano football fans as banal were on hand to cheer their favorite sides to victory, the crowd attendance was phenomenal , this could not be disassociated from the fact that the competing clubs where rooted in their communities in name, sponsorship, brand, merchandize, and management composition.
Though the fans could sometimes be overzealous, therefore making the provision of security at the league centre too expensive to provide nor hard to provide to curtail aggrieved fans from venting their anger beyond the acceptable borders of decency.
Football hooliganism was evident everywhere, it was a threat to the ingredients of good football, coaches, players, officials , even government officials in most cases could not rebuke the unwanted spirit of the game, everybody was a suspect, use of intimidation seemed to be the norm everyone was home and dry with it.
Only a true home boy could have coordinated the league centres in Kano in NLO 2 from its beginning to an appreciable end, knowing the weight of the football giants that were at the helms of affairs at these clubs.
A good number of the clubs, it would not be out of place to say they were taking part in the league in a situation best described as an all round difficult circumstances.
Kano state Sports Commission , KSSC under the leadership of former NFA president, Dr) Ibrahim Galadima stood firmly behind NLO 2023 in Kano, just like the rock of Gibraltar .
Even when the state transition committee were not relenting in its push to take over Sani Abacha stadium, to commence early preparations for the May 29 handing over ceremony, Galadima invested his sports management skills and statesmanship to ensure it all ended well.
Galadima said “The people of Kano deserve everything to make sure that the opportunities to host this kind of national sports programmes come to the state so often.”
On May 2nd, a one day capacity building workshop for NLO club’s media officer was held at NUJ Kano Press Centre to educate the participants on their functions as media officers.
The opening match of NLO 2023 played at Sani Abacha stadium between Kano Pillars JNR vs Kwankwasiyya United ended 1-1, Kano football enthusiasts have not seized to clamor for more of such matches.
The crème de la crème of Kano football fraternity witnessed the epic opener, amongst them were Executive chairman, KSSC, Ibrahim Galadima, renown football administrator, former chairman, Kano Pillars football club, Tukur Babangida, chairman Kano All Stars, Abdulrazak baba, Vice chairman, Kano Ex Footballers, Husiani Alabi, chairman, Kano Football Coaches Association, chief magistrate Ibrahim Gwadabe.
Others are, chairman NUJ Kano council, comrade Abbas Ibrahim, veteran sports writer, Nkechi Obi, former Kano state director of sports, Ibrahim Abba, ED Peace Initiative Network, Dr Femi Shodipo, retired FIFA referee, Ibrahim Umar Fagge, Vice president SWAN, Lurwanu Idris Malikawa, representatives of NLO prospective sponsors, amongst others.
The Chief Operating Officer, NLO, Olushola Ogunnowo, in an interview boasted that the league would only continue to get better.
According to him, in the last one decade huge investments have been made towards improving the NLO brand.
Ogunnowo stated that the league organizers are not resting on its oars to progress the brand using available football technology to pursue the expansion of potentials that will attract sponsorship and give the players that expensive opportunity required to graduate to the professional cadre of the game.
The chairman SWAN, Kano chapter, comrade Zahradeen Saleh thanked NLO for the choice of Kano as one of the league centres.
He said “ Kano is the home of football in Nigeria, we thank NLO, we will always give our support to the development of football in the state.”
The immediate past chairman, NRA Kano council, mallam Nasiru applaud the league for its focus and determination to improve its brand.
He urged the league to remain focus in its quest to attain higher heights, further appealing to it to always engage the services of veterans in all departments of its services.
The management of Albarka football club praised the league organizers for been sensitive to the cause of taking Nigerian football to greater heights.
The club in a press briefing with sports writers in Kano organized by the club media officer, Sani Abdullahi said though there are areas for improvement , but so far kudos to NLO.