Passion drives me as a football Administrator –Fresh

As the recently appointed Technical and Development Committee chairman of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf Fresh who is an influential executive board member opened up to Blueprint Sports crew why he goes about growing grassroots soccer all over Nigeria.

Passion for grassroots football

Yes, Comrade Ahmed Yusuf is somebody that has passion generally in football. I’m somebody who has the zeal to contribute his own quarter to the development of the youth through football.

I became the Chairman of the Niger football association in 2004 which is almost 16 years. It has been my passion to see that we get there. Catching them young has always been my target. For me to be also sponsoring the Niger football tournament, that has always been my target.

It’s something that I believe in and decide to pay whatever I get in this industry to the younger ones. This is usually my own vision and hobby. I don’t think I’m the only one with this vision and ambition in the football development in this country, we have people like Sheriff Inuwa, in Kano, he is somebody I always cherish, believe in because of the programmes he holds in Kano.

Also, Barrister Seyi Akinwumi is another person that has the mentality of grassroots development program in Lagos. Lagos and Kano should rank first and second in football development. The third one should be Niger state because I respect these two great gentlemen. I’m happy with what I’m doing. I’m happy with the support am getting, from what I’m getting from my state. I’m happy with the support am getting from the executive committee of the NFF.

The new composition of Referees committee
I’m also part of the Referees committee because I also serve as the vice chairman of the referees committee for NFF.

NFF President is somebody who has the interest and passion of the game of football. You can see what he has done to the referees in Nigeria. From capacity building in London, Nigeria, even in the coucils where we have the referees and all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria.

If we can get it right in officiating in this country, then I think football will develop. If we don’t get it right from officiating, then I think the game of football in Nigeria will not reach a level people will appreciate. I’m happy with what I did for the past two years as the chairman of Referees committee. If a referee cannot get it right, the first thing we will do as a committee is to sack him or we relegate or see that we suspend him.

I think with the Sheriff Inuwa-led Referees committee with the same mentality I’m ready to assist him to contribute to the development of the game. FIFA as a body has the feel that Nigeria should be the number one in the continent of Africa because if Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa can get it right in officiating, I think the other 54 nations we have will queue in.

The League Management Company has done a tremendous job in sponsoring all these programmes. Referees programmes happen annually.
Even if we cannot have a referee to be at 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we are assuring Nigerians that at least a Nigerian referee will be among those that will be at 2022 FIFA World Cup. Presently, we have persons that have good age prospect. And if we can have such referees, then there is hope that one day. Nigeria referees will be at the World cup.

Now we have young referees that are in cadre A and presently at B, so by 2022, our team will play the politics being played presently in the CAF.

Rising profile at CAF
You see I don’t think I have a target set for myself for this game of football. If you are getting me right always, its only God that can project you back or front and I have the believe of serving at the global level, that is the entire world.

Presently I’m a committee member in CAF and tomorrow my dream is to see myself serving in FIFA not only as an executive committee member even if it’s a standing committee is there for me to serve, I will appreciate because I will be serving the entire globe, one day my dream is to see that I’ll be serving FIFA.

Becoming the Chairman NFF Technical Committee
I feel highly excited and I’m the happiest man on earth. For the executive committee to deem it fit to elect me to serve as chairman, technical committee and developmental of the NFF and looking at my antecedent of my vice chairman for the past three years and being member of the same committee in CAF for years and like I said I’m the most happiest man, I am excited.

Because people look at the committee as the most important committee among the standing committees of NFF but for me, it’s something that I have never dreamt of. For me to be there, I think the little I will use it to contribute to the development of the game in Nigeria.

Qualifying for 2018 World Cup with a match to go

The feeling was a feeling of Emotion! Emotion! Emotion! As in I was in tears, tears of joy, tear of happiness, tears of that we have gotten the ticket. I was the chairman of Referees committee when we qualified. Now being the chairman, the feeling is like; let me say an air plane going above the sea level and I think I’m somebody going above the sea level at that moment and all the joy was in me and people can see how I celebrated that goal. I was full of joy and it was highly excited. I’m happy, I was so happy that Nigeria qualified with a game to go.

Eagles’ target at World Cup
Believing that Super Eagles will make it to semi-final is the same thinking that all the NFF executive committee members share. The last board led by Aminu Maigari nearly scale through the round of 16 but God said that was exactly where we will stop. Surpassing round of 16 is a target we set for ourselves to achieve and as the chairman of the technical committee, I think the target is of course achievable and if all things being equal and if we put all things in place, the technical crew, administrators, fans, Nigerians like the market woman. All we need to do is to come together, look at the team, focus on what to do, put God, put prayers into it, I think it’s not a big task for us Nigerians to achieve.

Funding as a factor
I don’t think funding will be a problem or a big challenge to this administration because the president of this country, President Muhammadu Buhari is somebody who has keen interest in the game.

You can see when Nigeria played Cameroon and he was excited seeing Nigeria defeat Cameroon to 4 goals to nil. Whenever he sees the budget of the Super Eagles I’m telling and assuring Nigerians that this is a person that will definitely put pen to paper so that funds are being released to the team so as to execute all their projects and if you look at our NFF President Amaju Pinnick. This is a person who has the zeal, ambition, skill, for the coaches. So, I don’t think funding will be of any challenge to the present administration towards the 2018 F IFA World Cup.

Weather concerns
I think Footballers can adapt to weather anytime, any day if they are ready to play. That is why we are putting together friendly matches. The test games will be a good test for the team and if you at the crop of players we have recently in the team, most of them are playing in Europe and I believe same weather in England, same weather in Spain, or be it Belgium. It may have similar weather to that of Russia by next year.

All 32 nations that qualified are going to play under same terrain, under the same visibility. So I don’t think it’s going to be a problem for the team at all because there is what we call preparation before the world cup and even if we do not move to Russia before the time, any country that has similar weather with Russia is where we are going to do our camping.

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