Inspector General of Police, IGP Muhammad Baba Alkali.
Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP Garba Sule Yaro is the Chairman, Nigeria Police Football Association is a known name in Police games in Nigeria. He is former National Captain of the Nigeria Police team. While carrying out his policing duties as Commander Mobile Police Squadron, MOPOL 42 Gusau, Zamfara State, Yaro has maintained his deep passion for sports – football. He spoke with Abasifreke Effiong about his vision for football development in the Nigeria Police Force, on the side line of the first leg game at the 13th triennial police games in Uyo. Excerpt.
• Why is the Police games such an important event at this point when insecurity is a big issue in Nigeria?
The essence of this biennial Police games is to afford us opportunity to train, boost our capacity and energy to face our job and its attendant challenges. The physical capacity we build as sportsmen will rub off positively on our first-line responsibility which is to combat crime and ensure that crime and criminality are reduced to the barest minimum.
This competition is not something we do for comfort. We have a lot of players that we are showcasing here, all of them are policemen. If you go down memory lane, you will discover that the Nigeria Police have produced very many talents, the likes of Juluis Aghahowa in football, and other sports. We produced the goalkeeper that keeps for Bayelsa United who happened to win the confederation cup and played at the continental level. In fact we have a lot of players playing all over the country and in the Premier league clubs. We are not talking about only the domestic leagues, we have players who are playing international though they might not be recognised but they are playing abroad and they are still serving policemen. So you can see that it is not just about policing, we still have a forum where we sit for recreation.
Secondly, since 1998 when the then Police machine team got promotion, there was no fund for the Nigeria Police to play that league hence we were left at our own mercy and discretion to go out and search for sponsors to make sure we survive in the league. The Nigeria Police Force have 16-17 football teams across the nation from all over the Commands playing various types of leagues including the Nigerian Amateur League, the State League, the like of Crime Fighters League Lagos, the Crime Busters League in Enugu, the team there once played for National 1. We have Sokoto Caliphate team who are still policemen playing at Amateur 2.
Just recently, the Bareta Police machine team at Gombe got promoted to the Nigerian National League Pro 1. And by God’s grace, next season we will showcase our boys. Let this boys equally reproduce the likes of Aghahowa. If you could remember those days if you are looking for athletes you come to the Force, they are in abundance. The likes of Chioma Ajunwa that won medals and laurels for Nigeria. They are all servicemen, that’s the glory we want to bring back to the Nigeria Police. We want to bring the Nigeria Police games to its proper shape. There is no armed forces games that we participate that we have rivals, we don’t have but we want to go beyond that level, we want to build a formidable team that can compete against any team anywhere. The abundant talents in Nigeria Police is enormous. It is for us to gather, harness and nurture this fresh talents and bring them together, which in essence we are going to do.
ACP Garba Sule Yaro, Chairman, Nigeria Police Football Association.
• Prospects from the 13th biennial Police games?
This tournament is awesome. For me as the Chairman of the the Nigeria Police Football, I want to harness these talents and put them together and make sure we are at the right spot in the Nigerian League. If you go to African countries like Morocco, Sudan, Kenya, you will see that police are the ones topping their leagues. Why won’t we have that in this country. We have all the resources. Go to Morocco, the Royal Police of Morocco are still topping Leagues. Go to Tunisia, Uganda, policemen are in the League.
• What do you need to build a football team for NPF capable of playing in national leagues?
Of course, we have to extend our gratitude to the Inspector General of Police for giving us this opportunity. If not for him we wouldn’t be playing this tournament. In fact, he has done greatly. That’s the kind of enormous support that we want. We want stakeholders who know that police have been the driving factor where you can source of athletes to turn back and search for athletes from our fold, I can guarantee that they will get it here. We have it. It is not about business. When it comes to the institution, if you say you need this player you don’t need to sit down and negotiate for money, the institution will just give an order and you will have the player of your choice. It is not like what is happening elsewhere where you have to pay so much to buy a player. In the Nigeria Police if you identify a player, the Inspector General of Police will give approval and we don’t have to sit down and negotiate. So, getting those talents is cheaper and we are doing it to boost and project the image of the police and the country in general. We are not bringing money into it, we are seeing country first and then the Nigeria Police. We also need support from the media to propagate what we are doing so that people will know that this is what we are doing. We need support from all stakeholders.
•What are your expectations at the end of this tournament?
We are sitting here to identify exceptional talents from among the different teams that will play in this tournament. We are all here to scout for talents that we can take immediately to the camp and groom them together, harness them and bring up a team that can compete anywhere and we will beat our chest and say the Inspector General has produced these talents.
• How many football teams are playing in this tournament?
The Nigeria Police have about 17 zones but by virtue of this competition, we have 10 zones that qualified for this finals. The Force Headquarters Abuja Zone 17, Zone 6 from Akwa Ibom, Zone 9 from Enugu, Zone 13 from Anambra, Zone 10 from Sokoto. We have a total of 10 teams for the male category. We have teams from six Zones for the female category. We have 16 teams altogether competing in this tournament.
• The duration of the competition?
The competition will end on the 30th of November. Mind you, it’s not only football, we have other games including shooting, badminton, table tennis, rugby, wrestling, swimming and other sporting events.