Last week the ISF was proud to welcome Nigeria on board as our latest member.
We sat down with Heny Koko, the head of Nigerian socca, to discuss a range of topics, including the state of 6 a side football in his country, his aims for the World Cup in Crete….and how he thinks Nigeria will fare in the ACON tournament later this month.
He was in high spirits, as you will see.
What led you to the ISF in the first place?
Having always loved and played sport; football for years and more recently tennis, I had held an interest in venturing into sports organisation.
I believe it was necessary to set out the right way and knew the only to achieve that was on the right platform, with the right partners. My research took me to Leisure Leagues and by extension the ISF.
You came to the ISF conference back in March, I just wondered what your impressions were of the day?
I was not sure what to expect when I walked into the conference, but very quickly became impressed by the professional setup, the vision and the strategic plan of the ISF. It knew soon enough, I was in the right place.
Moving forward now. What is the situation regarding small sided football in Nigeria? Are there leagues?
Interesting question! A lot of football gets played in Nigeria but usually without too much structure. What appears to occur from an organisation point of view, seasonally, are small sided tournaments which are held over a few days and these are usually organised by companies.It is hard to point to a league system anywhere in the country; this is where we as an organisation, The HIVE Leagues, come in.
The African Nations Cup in 11 a side football is about to start next week. How are things looking?
Nigeria always goes in as one of the favourites but we will have to wait and see what performance we get once the tournament commences.
Then obviously in October, you guys will be trying to emulate them in your own World Cup, you must be looking forward to it?
Definitely looking forward to October and the World Cup in Crete. I expect the event to be an out of this world experience for the average football fan who makes it down there.
What are your aims? Both for the World Cup and 6 a side football more generally?
Our aim for the World Cup, is first, to make sure we get a squad over to Greece and secondly, to give the matches we play in our best shot. We will try to enjoy the occasion and all the Greek culture.
Our aim for small sided football in the country is huge! We want to replicate the culture and structure of organised small sided football as seen in the UK, for instance, here in Nigeria. We are setting up leagues around the country as we speak. We believe Everybody Should Play (that’s our slogan by the way)! Our vision is for teams to qualify for local tournaments through our leagues, and for the tournaments to produce the players, everyday amateur players and fans, for the World Cup team year after year.