We had a sit down with some of our coaches at SociaLiga, quizzing them about their experiences, views on youth football in Nigeria, as well as a way forward in terms of grassroot football.

Question: What made you decide to become a coach, and is coaching a fulltime job for you?

Answer: I am very passionate about sports. I used to play professionally until I got injured which made me stop playing totally. Football had a very impact on my life so I decided to become a certified Coach.

I am not a full time coach because I am fully involved in fitness, but that doesn’t stop me from carrying out my duties as a coach. I am fully committed to both. For me, it’s more about being passionate about the game and developing players at the grassroots level.

Question: Seeing as grassroot football isn’t as profitable right now, how do you get money to run the team? E.g funds for purchasing equipment, getting training grounds etc

Answer: I sponsor my team with my personal funds, but I have people who believe in what I am doing and they support me from time to time. To me, this is beyond football, it’s about shaping lives and creating a platform to pave the way for young boys and girls. This is why my players are well taken care of in terms of training facilities, branding, etc

Question: Football or soccer, what do you call it😅?

Answer: I call it football because that’s what is called worldwide apart from the Americans who decided to call it soccer. But I am really indifferent when it comes to either name although football is what I call it.

Question: Being that there are hardly any leagues for the u-17’s and below as we have it in other top football nations, what do you think of the grassroot football structure in Nigeria, and how would you say Socialiga is helping to improve the standard of grassroot football in the country?

Answer: The grassroot football structure in Nigeria is a chaos, especially when there is no proper plan from the people incharge. But it’s improving now through private investment and private leagues like SociaLiga who are creating platforms for young players to advance in their football career, which I appreciate a lot.

Question: How will you describe your coaching style, and what top football managers do you look up to for inspiration?

Answer: As a grassroot coach, my coaching style is a holistic approach. It focuses on player development and player relationships, while demanding results.

My philosophy is extracted from coaches I admire a lot, like Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Marcelo Bielsa and Pep Guardiola.

Question: What goals are your team players planning to achieve in the coming future? Do they have plans to get professional contracts and if so how are they going about it?

Answer: All my players are working towards going professional and that’s why they are even on the team. The whole idea is to keep them working hard and developing, while we showcase at every opportunity possible for them to realize their dream.

Question: If you were the President of the NFF, what will be the foremost decision or reform you would make?

Answer: I would reform the entire system, and part of my priorities will be to invest in grassroot football by developing lots of coaching programs to educate coaches and have a clear philosophy on how all our national teams should play and develop players. I would continuously organize leagues and competitions for all age categories.

Question: What would you say are the struggles of a grass-root team in Nigeria?

Answer: The struggles in grassroot football in Nigeria are mainly the lack of qualified coaches (with all due respect to my colleagues) although that is changing gradually. But again lack of coaching programs apart from NIS makes it limiting, as well as lack of funding and support from the appropriate authorities.

Question: What coaching badges do you have, or which ones are you looking to get?

Answer: My qualifications are AFC batch A, Coaching Science, Sports Management, CAF batch B. I am also looking forward to getting CAF batch A.

I am always hungry to learn new things about sports in general and football specifically so hopefully, in the future I intend getting qualifications in Europe also.

Question: We saw top European coaches teleconferencing with their players during the lockdown, how have you kept your team morale high in the middle of the global health crises we are currently undergoing?

Answer: Here in Nigeria, players are limited and one of our only effective tools of communication with them is WhatsApp. So we have a WhatsApp group where we give them training programs, develop fitness and ball work challenges, football and general knowledge quizzes on a daily basis which come with prizes for winners.

Danny Nazzal
Owner and Head Coach of Dannaz Fc and Ivory Football Academy

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