felix-owolabiBy Okeowo Oladapo

Felix Owolabi believes the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) players have to improve and churn out world class performances.

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The former IICC Shooting Stars (now Shooting Stars Sports Club) and Green Eagles winger was quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as saying the league does not have a shortage of talent. He asserted that the problem with the league is an absence of viable structures and developmental programmes.

He said: “Our leagues should take advantage of modern day technology and make it high standard.

“Ours is not the problem of lack of talents, it is a problem of absence of viable structures that should engender developmental programmes,’’ he said,”the league cannot sustain itself; there is need for structures to be put in place to achieve the desired result.”

Owolabi, according to the NAN report, believes there is a direct relationship between the state of the league and the development of football in the country. He is of the opinion that a good league would draw scouts from other top leagues. It will also bring about increased club revenue as football fans would once again fill the stadiums to watch games.

Fans would give the NPFL the same attention and love that they shower on foreign leagues like the EPL, La Liga and Serie A.

The former player, Shooting Star FC of Ibadan, recalled that in his days, fans made sure they were at the stadium early in order to secure a space.

“In my days, if you get to the Liberty Stadium late, be rest assured that you’re going to watch match outside the stadium, because fans took delight in watching us play.

“They would like to see the likes of Owolabi, Christian Chukwu, Segun Odegbami and the late Muda Lawal. We, the players, also gave the fans something to look forward to.

“As we speak, hardly does the common, layman know 10 clubs in our league, but asks him about the European Football League, he will tell you about transfers made in 1990.

“When you are watching a team like Barcelona, you know there are some players you want to see, but here in Nigeria, where are the players?

Felix Owolabi was an exciting left winger in his heydays. His close control an ability to take on his man earned him invites to the national team and made him a fan favourite in Ibadan where he is fondly called Owo-blow. He played with the Nigerian teams that came third at the 1978 African Cup of Nations and won the African Cup of Nations in 1980. He was also part of Shooting Stars 1992 CAF Cup (now CAF Confederations Cup) winning team.