Rangers International Football Club of Enugu broke a 32-year trophy drought on Sunday, October 2, as it beat El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, 4-0, to clinch its 7th League title. The last time the battle–tested club won the coveted trophy was in 1984, under the tutorship of Chairman Christian Chukwu, who is at present the Technical Director of the team. We congratulate the club on this wonderful achievement which has brought back memories of a glorious past in our football history and signposts immense potentials for the present and the future. The Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, Enugu home ground of the Rangers International Football Club, was filled to capacity while millions of other football enthusiasts watched on television the final match which turned out a good advertisement for our local league.
The journey to the victory of the Rangers Football Club, which is also known as the Flying Antelopes, started much earlier in the season with 38 matches played over several months. Rangers laid down the marker early and sustained the charge for the elusive trophy in a hotly contested season.
The 2015/16 football league season will, perhaps, go down as the most keenly contested in recent times. About four clubs, Rangers International, Rivers United, Wikki Tourists and Ifeanyi Ubah FC, were in fierce competition for the diadem and were changing leadership at the top of the log virtually every week and right up to the end. It was a photo-finish to the league and sheer excitement for its numerous followers.
For winning the league, Rangers International has pocketed N40 million with add-ons projected to reach N90m. This price money is an indication of the huge possibilities in the local league, if it is properly harnessed. We congratulate the management of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) and the Leagues Management Company (LMC) responsible for running the local league. The coming on board of the latter in the last few years has greatly improved the level of organisation of our local league, and taken it to greater heights.
The fact that our football can now be watched live on television every week means a lot. The officiating and management of the teams have also improved. More professionalism has crept into the recruitment and transfer of players, but there is still much room for improvement. In recent times, there have been noticeable improvements in the administration of local leagues. Partnerships with football federations in Europe are springing up with huge opportunities created to improve on the organisation and business potentials of the leagues.
The success of Rangers in the just-concluded football season has brought back fond memories of the 1960s and 70s when the team, alongside its contemporaries and rivals – Industrial Investment and Credit Corporation (IICC now 3SC) FC of Ibadan, Bendel Insurance of Benin, Stationery Stores (now defunct) of Lagos and Racca Rovers of Kano – held sway. Those were the times of fierce rivalry and passionate followership. While the others have fallen apart somewhat, Rangers has sustained the worthy tradition.
This is why the success of Rangers this time means so much to current local football teams. With proper management and funding of the local league, a lot more can be achieved. After all, football still remains one of the greatest unifiers across religion, race, class and creed in the country. Why should our country not harness its vast potentials?
Rangers, on the back of this success, should go on and make a resounding statement on the continent. It should continue from where Eyimba International FC of Aba left off. Teams from Nigeria should not only be participating in competitions on the continent but should be winning. That is the responsibility that our vast resources confer on us.
Continuity is key. We urge the management of Rangers International to hold on to the team that has served it very well. We congratulate the young coach of the team, Imama Amakapabor, and his coaching crew. We salute the Enugu State government too for foreseeing this great moment, and helping to bring it to reality. The players and coaching crew deserve all the rewards planned for them.