Busari Ishola, the current chairman of Kwara Football Association in this interview with MIKE ADEYEMI speaks on the pace of Grassroots soccer developments in Kwara and his readiness to steer Kwara FA beyond.
What is the rate of football developments in Kwara?
Thank you. The history of football in Kwara is quite interesting and encouraging. You will recall that at the inception of creation of state, we have twelve states, Kwara inclusive. Kwara since inception has always faired well.
Apart from the western and eastern regions, we also had a block called northern state. Since then, kwara has been doing wonderfully fine in all aspects of football, be it at the school boy football usually called academic as and the senior team.
As a matter of fact, what we are enjoying today was an efforts of the founding fathers who laid solid foundation for sports and particularly football in the state.
So, Kwara State has always occupied a very unique position in terms of general sports development and football in particular.
So, if you want to take off from there, I want to say that yes, we have maintained this position for quite some time, until the late 80s and 90s when Kwara came down a little bit from the ladder. In another word, our position declined.
Just like I said earlier, we had twelve states and in all competitions, its either Kwara coming 3rd or at least 4th. For two years, we were runners up in national competitions.
The only reason I deduced from it is that, at a point, we deviated from the laid down rule of programmes of the founding fathers of encouraging grassroots football and to a large extent, organising sporting competitions.
So, when I came in as FA chairman, owing to the fact that I was part of the beginning of football in Kwara, I quickly identified this problem and tackled it frontally.
Therefore, I made grassroots football developments as my cardinal point. One of the indices of poor state of Kwara football as at the time I came in is that, most of our clubs, Kwara United and ABS had almost 90 per cent of players from outside Kwara.
My tenure ensures that we takes football back to the local government. Too, we have also put in place developmental programs for our youths.
Looking back today, I have cause to glorify Allah because what I set out to do at least, I have laid the foundation and moved football developments from where I met it.
Since I came in, we always had ranging competition every year for age group particularly the under 13 and 17.
Prior now, there wasn’t competition like we had today. Am happy to note that as a result of these championship, we have been able to get our youth to the national team.
As a matter of fact, the NFF realises my contribution that is why I was made a member of LFF youth development technical committee.
So, when you look at the stories serially, Kwara football developments has picked up progressively.
What are your efforts toward giving Grassroots Football prominence in Kwara
Like I said earlier, because it is one of my cardinal point taking football back to the cradle , am delighted to say as at today, all the 16 local governments of Kwara State have a football council meant primarily to boost grassroots football developments.
I believe that players abound in Kwara state. We have more of them at the rural areas and sadly we are missing out on them.
After the creation of these councils, we will monitor that there is competitions across all the local government as the state league will be coming up at the end of this month. That is part of identifying players through this league and model.
In a nutshell, I have given grassroots football developments prominence.
In the last National festival, we have formidable team, but the state government do not have money to sponsor them.
Some states in Nigeria already has a blueprint to build stadia in all local governments, how possible is it in Kwara?
It is not difficult at all to site stadia across the local government areas. I remember in the 70s, there were policy toward this and I do know if some of these stadia built then are still in operation now. The one in Asa, share I think are parts of this legacy.
It all depends on the commitment from the local government with proper planning.
When we talk of building a stadia, it doesn’t necessarily mean a huge edifice with intensive capital commitment.
No! It is just a matter of getting a level plain ground, modify it to the taste that would suit soccer events.
I think the local government in synergy with the state government; building stadia across the local government in the state is easily possible.
Your eight years as Kwara FA chairman lapse soonest, will you re-contest?
I have not made up my mind yet
I always believe that you leave when the ovation is loudest.
(Cuts-in) Did the constitution allows for that?
Of course, in football, there is no time lag. Some of my colleagues in other states have been there for over 16 years and so on.
It depends on what they want and what the people they represent want.
(Cut-in) But why have you not obtain your nomination form?
The time for form collection has not expired. Am still thinking about it.
What would you love Kwara football family to remember you for after your tenure?
As an individual, you cannot see or say this is what I have done. It is your people that will assess you.
I want to be remembered as someone who came into football administration because he loves the game, and who had made impact, contributes his qota to the football developments in the state.