The recent news that defender Isiaka Oladuntoye has been suspended by the club has come as a bit of a surprise. For one thing, our long defender does not seem like the type. But it seems like a good time to address the issue of discipline.
In this country we grow up with a distrust of authority. In fairness, it is not unique to Nigeria, as human beings will generally abuse a position of power is allowed to. The difference is that, over here, there is no system to check this.
As a result, we often feel like, by rebeling against an authority that we believe is being unfair to us, we are doing the right thing.
We do not have the player’s side of the story, but apparently he failed to resume as at when instructed. We do not know what led to this. However, it is something we see too often: a player feels like he needs a longer break, and so decides to get it for himself.
It then leaves the club no choice but to hit them where it hurts, and then they are forced to return. The question is: why does it have to get to that?
As a professional footballer, you are paid by your club to do what is asked of you. You will not always feel like it. But, in so far as you’re not being asked to do something illegal, you are beholden to obey instructions.
Sure, you can express your reservations through the captain. That’s the proper channel. Or if it is a more private matter, you can go up to the team manager. What you do not do is go off half-cocked and act like you’re self-employed.
A lot of our players want to be treated with a greater degree of professionalism than they themselves are able or willing to exhibit. It’s never going to happen. If there’s a lesson that Nigeria teaches us all, it is that we get the leaders we deserve.
It would be a shame if this leads to Isiaka leaving the club. He was one of our more impressive performers in our run to the CAF Confederation Cup this past season. Hopefully, both player and club sit down and iron out the issues before it gets out of hand.