BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
The controversy on the actual foundation date of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, may soon be laid to rest. The NFF president, Amaju Pinnick on Sunday at the Freedom Park in Lagos during the unveiling of the book, ‘The History of Football in Nigeria – A Story of Heroes and Epics’ written by renowned historian and researcher, Dr. Wiebe Boer, remarked that he was going to table the issue of the actual foundation date at the next General Assembly.
He was responding to a question on the foundation date of the NFF which is generally believed to be 1945 but which research had proven to be wrong.
- Amaju Pinnick , NFF president will present the proposal of reviewing the NFF foundation date to the Congress.
For years, Kunle Solaja, had advanced the facts that the football governing body of Nigeria is older than the age it is claiming and that it was founded on August 21, 1933.
The author of the new book, Boer, also made the same assertion as he wrote on pages 37 and 38 of the book, corroborating the fact that NFF was founded in 1933.
Dr. Wiebe Boer, author ‘The History of Football in Nigeria’
The NFF boss said that it has to be established whether the 1933 claim is a product of oral history or there are scientific evidences to prove it.
Pinnick said, ahead of the next NFF Congress, he would soon call for the documents from those who claim that the NFF was not founded in 1945, but in 1933. Football administrators in the country have stuck with an undated day of 1945 to be the foundation of the NFF.
The claim may have arisen on the fact that the oldest national competition, the Governor’s Cup which had changed nomenclature to Challenge Cup, FA Cup, Federation Cup and lately, the Aiteo Cup began that year.
But there are evidences to prove that it was an historical fallacy to link the foundation of the Governor’ Cup to the foundation of the NFF which was then known as the NFA.
The Governor’s Cup was not initiated by the NFA in 1945 by the Lagos and District Amateur Football Association (LDAFA) which is today’s Lagos State Football Association.
It was the LDAFA that called for entries for the competition through an advertisement it published in the Daily Times edition of July 30, 1945.
In the advertisement LDAFA announced its existing competitions of War Memorial Cup which is open to all affiliated clubs and scratch teams as well as the European Cup that was open to all European clubs in Lagos.
- Evidence that the NFA did not organise the 1945 Governor’s Cup. It was a competition initiated by the Lagos & District Amateur Football Association that called for Entries through the Daily Times of July 30, 1945.
The Governor’s Cup was listed as ‘awaiting decision’. To further buttress the fact that the Governor’s Cup was a Lagos affair, Frank Llyod, who was then the LDAFA chairman wrote in the Daily Times edition of November 6, 1946 that in the coming year, the cup would be transferred to the NFA to make it a national competition.
The phrase ‘Founded in 1945’ first appeared on the letterhead of the then NFA in correspondence with FIFA on March 17, 1981 when a new board led by Col. Mike Okwechime was announced.
March 17, 1981 letter obtained from FIFA sources. It is first time the phrase ‘Founded 1945’ appeared on the letterhead of the NFA.
Apart from different editions of the Daily Times carrying the foundation of the NFA in 1933, checks at The FA in England where the Nigerian football governing body was first affiliated in 1934 also confirmed that the 1945 date was false.
The next Congress of the NFF is due to hold late in September this year, even though it is planned to be an elective one.