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Nigeria Football Federation Clocks 84, But They Don’t Know

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is 84 this Monday, even though officially, the body thinks it is 72 on an unknown date this year as reflected in its emblem.
As it is this year, the anniversary of Nigeria’s football governing body has always passed unnoticed, owing to improper record keeping which has made its officials to erroneously take the body’s foundation to be an undisclosed day in 1945.
“Founded 1945” now adorns the badge of the NFF. But no fact exists to back up the 1945 dateless claim, except the general belief that the Governor’s Cup which changed to Challenge Cup, later the Coca-Cola FA Cup and the Federation Cup and now AITEO was instituted that year by the then NFA.
Efforts to enunciate the facts on what was previously known as the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) to the successive boards since 2003 had always been rebuffed. Verifiable archival materials have revealed that the NFF was founded at 7pm on Monday August 21, 1933, at house number 42, Broad Street, Lagos. The building still exists.
All the facts on the actual foundation date are verifiable and still exist. The facts were passed to the penultimate former Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi and the immediate former NFF president, Alhaji Aminu Maigari as well as his successor.
All are possibly still studying the documents presented to them. The documents had earlier been presented to the last two regimes of the then NFA/NFF – Ibrahim Galadima and Sani Ahmed Lulu as well as a former minister of Sports, Abdulrahman Hassan Gimba in 2008.
A presentation of the documents was made to the Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima-led NFA board on April 9, 2003. This was followed by a similar presentation to Alhaji Sani Lulu board on March 6, 2007, at the Lagos liaison office of the NFF.
There is no official reaction as all just promised to look into the documents. Alhaji Aminu Maigari was more receptive to dig a little bit into the documented evidences provided, but he was overwhelmed by the crisis that trailed the tail end of his tenure.
The current NFF president, Amaju Pinnick also has the documents since June 7, but no official reaction at the moment.
Most of the evidences on the actual foundation date of the Nigerian football governing body can be found at the Department of National Archives at the University of Ibadan.
The August 21, 1933 edition of the Nigerian Daily Times, which later changed to Daily Times, carried the advertisement of the meeting of football enthusiasts who planned to form a central organisation to be named Nigeria Football Association.
It called on interested people to attend. The venue was the Health Office, 42 Broad Street, Lagos. The building still exists as the Lagos Island Local Government Primary Health Clinic.
Four days later, the foundation of the NFA was reported in the Nigerian Daily Times of Friday, August 25, 1933, under the headline: “Nigeria Football Association.”
It was reported that 30 delegates attended the foundation of the NFA. One Henry A. Porter was appointed the first ever NFA boss.
He went by the title: ‘President.’ Porter was also the founding chairman of the LDAFA (now Lagos FA) in 1932, and secretary of the Public Works Department (PWD) club.
Other pioneer officials of the then NFA included three vice presidents –Adeyemo Alakija, Dr. Isaac Ladipo Oluwole and Baron Frederick Mulford (a white expatriate fondly called Baba Eko).
Joseph Mead was the pioneer secretary. According to the newspaper report, the NFA had 10 affiliated clubs at its foundation. They were Abeokuta and nine Lagos teams that accepted to become parent clubs. The nine founding parent clubs were Afric, Olympics, Health, PWD, Muslims, Railway Institute, Marine, Spalding and UAC.
The only definite refusal among Lagos- based clubs to become a parent club was the Police club which argued that a national association was an approach towards professionalism.
At that time, even up to the 1950s, professional football was scornfully regarded. For instance, in an article in the Sunday Times of September, 20 1953, NFA Secretary, R.B. Allen, never hid his hatred for professional football as it was regarded as capable of corrupting players.
The maiden annual general meeting of the NFA was fixed for January 1934. But it did not hold until Monday, February19, 1934. The half page uptight positioned report of the first annual general meeting of body was published in the Nigerian Daily Times edition of February 22, 1934, which is also available at the Department of National Archives at the University of Ibadan.
The secretary, Mead, complained that the response to invitations issued to clubs and districts to become members was poor.
He read a report dealing with efforts to popularise the idea of a national association. Mead stated that principal centres had been contracted on the aims and objectives of the NFA. But it seemed it was not a popular idea.
The newspaper account of the first Annual General Meeting of the then NFA revealed that the only definite acceptance of invitation to become district associations was from Abeokuta, Lagos Amateur and Lagos European Amateur Associations while Ijebu Ode promised to inaugurate a district association and league in the following season.
But more significantly, Mead reportedly told the meeting that an application had been forwarded to The Football Association (The FA) in London for affiliation.
That led to another opening in the search for the true origin of what is now known as the NFF. A letter was dispatched to The Football Association in England by this reporter.
David Berber, the Public Affairs Officer at The FA in a response dated April 2, 1996, wrote in part: “I can advise that the name of the Nigeria Football Association first appeared in the FA Handbook for the season 1938-39 in the list of our affiliated associations. The NFA secretary at that time was F.B Mulford, with a Lagos address.”
That is an indication that the body had existed before 1945. Then a visit to the offices of the oldest football body in the world which will, on October 26, celebrate its 154th anniversary resulted in more startling revelations.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

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New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

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