One of the most wonderful things about the World Cup was that we were able to welcome so many new teams to the tournament – some did superbly. Mexico and Hungary, for example, reached the quarter finals, but all of them, really added their own stamp to an unforgettable week in Crete.
No one added more fun, flair and passion to things than Nigeria.There was no team prouder to play in the matches than the squad from The Hive Leagues led by Henry Koko.
Here, now he has had time to reflect on things, Henry tells us just what it meant to the team to be the first Nigerian side to compete on the World Socca stage, what they have learned in order be better equipped for next year and the moment that made him proudest.
So, your first World Cup: How was it? Our first world cup, first for Nigeria 6 aside and first for our company, The HIVE leagues, results aside, was just fantastic. We are very pleased to have participated in the Socca fest.
Whilst results might not have gone your way, what did you learn from it, do you think? We learnt a few things; The best teams made good use of the width of the pitch, spreading the play and being patient to ensure they created the clearest chances. We saw how useful it was to have a goalie who was good on the ball and so could support his outfield players and finally how critical it was to have a “full” squad to enable you make many changes throughout the match which helped keep players at high energy levels and concentration each time they stepped on the pitch.
You scored your first goal against Oman. That must have been special? Very special!! We had said in the run-up to the tournament how important it was for us to score a first goal. I am glad we managed to do that.
How was the World Cup received back home, did people watch online? It was well received. A fair number of people were curious about the competition and caught up with our matches
Just a word on the tournament itself, was it what you expected? The tournament was better than I had expected to be honest. Yes, I had seen clips from the previous edition in Lisbon; that was quite good but still didn’t prepare me and others for the real experience; so well organized from accommodation to transport from the airport and around town to the lovely stadium.
What can you learn for next time? In the coming year, we must start our preparations much earlier than we did for this year’s edition to prevent a repeat of the visa and travel challenges we experienced on the eve of the tournament.
What affect do you think it will have on the 6 a side game back home in Nigeria? Huge effect! More people are aware of the opportunity the 6aside game can give via our platform; that everybody and anyone can get a chance to play in an international tournament from just being involved in our local leagues
Finally, what was your favourite moment from Crete? I have several favourite moments to be honest but one that stands out is getting the opportunity to walk out with the boys to the centre circle, hearing the Nigerian national anthem come on and singing along, head held high, before thousands of people.