Fit and ready, but will they give famed grassroots gaffer Idahosa a chance to coach Nigeria?

Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin | 15 December 2012 | 4,998 times

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It is safe to say that every grassroots coach in Nigeria thinks he has what it takes to achieve greatness, but that goal continues to elude most of them. Whether it is for a lack of trying, bad luck or simply the lack of the right managerial know-how, many youth coaches have found it pretty hard to excel.

For famed talent moulder Douglas Idahosa, it is however a positively different story. The stock of the young coach has been steadily on the rise on the back his dogged approach to the development of exciting young players for the delight of the world. Combine that with his personal honours of leading youth teams to local, national and international successes, and one glimpses the heroism of a youth coach from a humble background in Edo State, South-South Nigeria.

When one takes time to research the footballing history of the present crop of talented Nigerian players – both those showing promise and the more established ones – at the different age-grade levels, it reveals something common: many have passed through the hands of Douglas Idahosa’s  tutorship at the grassroots level. This list includes two Super Eagles stars Victor Moses of Chelsea and Ederson Echiejile of FC Braga of Portugal’s first division.

Former Kano Pillars midfield kingpin, Solomon Okpako who captained the victorious home-based Super Eagles to lift the last held WAFU Cup, Osas Okoro, a famous name in the Nigerian premier league, Stanley Okoro (of the last under-23 team of Nigeria) and Aigbe Oliha who represented Nigeria at the under-17 cadre some years ago, are players who have had the blessing of being with Idahosa’s grassroots team, BJ FC (now known as Megapp FC) in the past. In the present under-17 team of Nigeria, Success Promise is one young man who has been banging in goals for fun. Not so long ago, he was a star attraction when Megap FC won the Edo State Youth League this year.

FC Porto, the Portuguese league champions also have in their books Ndubuisi Agu, a product of Douglas’s coaching.

It is a cliche to say that many coaches at the grassroots level are quick to claim a role in the success story of players who – no matter how briefly – played for them. They point to a big name player on TV and say: “That’s was my player.” It is the richest part of their CV. For Douglas Idahosa that is simply not enough to establish his name as a top local coach. That is why he channeled his love of the game into a devotion to achieve success by winning things locally and internationally with youth teams.

In his post-training address to his players at the Arinze Primary School playing field where his team trains, Idahosa tells the anecdote of his journey to Denmark in 2000, when he led a group of youngsters from Abudu to represent Nigeria in an international football competition. He talks about the skepticism from a family member who doubted the possibility of a seemingly unknown brother being given the task of leading a Nigerian team to Europe. There was also surprise when he was chosen (ahead of more famous names in Nigerian football) by soft drinks kings Coca Cola to lead the Nigerian team  to the maiden edition of the Copa Cup, an annual tournament aimed at given young players a platform for excelling in their chosen football career, in 2009.

Idahosa responded to the doubts in both cases by not allowing himself to be fazed by the challenges, working even harder, and at the end winning both tournaments, becoming the first coach from Nigeria and Africa to achieve the feats. In 2010, he led his Benin City team to retain the Nigeria Copa Cup, but was not appointed to take the Nigerian team to the international stage of the Copa Cup. Nigeria has failed to win the tournament since Douglas last won it in 2009.

What is the secret that seems to stand this youthful coach out in the crowd of grassroots coaches? Why is there a growing clamour, that have gone beyond whispers, for him to be given the opportunity to coach one of the youth national teams of Nigeria? The answer may be found in the words of one young Meggap player, Osas Ovenseri, who was part of the Coca Cola team that went on a playing tour to the Stamford Bridge London home of current European champions Chelsea in 2011. “He is devoted to the success of his players and can sacrifice anything for their progress,” Ovenseri tells News Express.

For Kenneth Imana, the assistant coach of Meggap FC, the most impressive quality of Idahosa’s  personality is his disciplined nature. His words: “Douglas inculcates discipline in his players. He doesn’t drink, smoke nor womanizes, and he stresses to his players that he expects them to curb any excesses in their social life.”

Idahosa’s coaching behavior is based around the concept of directness and simplicity with players. Each player is handed a tactical role, but room is always made for individualism to come to the fore. Training sessions are fixed for about 2pm to ensure players adapt to tough weather conditions.

Nigerians hope for a new generation of tactically sound, disciplined, and self-confident coaches for the national teams could be answered by the emergence of youth coaches like Douglas Idahosa. He tells News Express that he has a burning desire to coach any of the national teams of Nigeria, saying: “My dream is to be given the chance to handle a national teams in Nigeria.”

Who knows, someone at the high echelons of Nigerian football might be watching, and that dream could turn a reality.

Photo: Coach Idahosa, the moulder of talents.


Source: News Express

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