By Faith Oluchi
Since Heartland Queens started playing their home matches at the Federal Polytechnic Nekede Pitch, I have been curious about how the place looks. So I decided to travel from Port Harcourt to Owerri to watch Heartland Queens vs Ibom Angels on Wednesday and here are five things I observed.
ENVIRONMENT: I must say that the brain behind Heartland Queens playing their home matches on the premises of a higher institution must be truly wise. The environment is very conducive and friendly even though some may want to question the playing surface. However from my little travel experience in a bid to watch NPFL and NWFL matches, I have seen worst pitches. Aside the pitch, the environment is just fantastic.
FANS ATTENDANCE: I think one of the main reasons behind the idea of Heartland Queens playing in a higher institution is to enable them have good fan base. Good enough, this idea is living up to its expectation because I saw students that just rounded off lectures come with their books to watch the girls play. I took my time during the half time break to walk round the stadium and from my count; we had about 2,000 fans that were mainly girls. And I think this figure is encouraging for a women’s league match.
OFFICIATING: Often times in our league, there is always this complaint about officiating, especially from the away team when they lose. But this was one match where there was really nothing to complain about. As a matter of fact, the away team coach Whyte Ogbonda praised the level of officiating and only channeled his blames to his players for not taking their chances. This really goes to show that our league has improved and the mindset of our coaches towards officiating is beginning to change.
FAIR PLAY RULE and TACTICAL INDISCIPLINE: It is obvious that some of our players don’t understand the word “FAIR PLAY”. I observed that in the match. On three occasions when the centre referee stopped play for a player down to be attended to, after the player leaves the pitch and referee gives ball to the opponent to initiate fair play, they just continued play without observing it. Also some players exhibited high level of tactical indiscipline on the pitch which should be discouraged. Here is good example, a striker runs after the ball to score goal and goalkeeper rushes and picks the ball, instead of the goalkeeper to move on, she purposely stretches her leg towards the striker for her to fall. This shows a lack of discipline on the part of the keeper and where I sat, some fans were of the opinion that the keeper wanted to sell the match. I want to encourage clubs to always find time to organize seminars for their players.
MISSING BALLS and SECURITY: The issue of balls getting missing whenever home teams are leading especially in second half is one virus that I wonder which century it would die. At the beginning of any match, ball boys/girls always have excess balls at their disposal but once its second half and the home team is leading, the balls develop wings and fly away such that the ball boys/girls would be saying they can’t find them. Maybe away teams should start binding and casting the wings those balls develop.
Another issue is security; I have observed that most teams don’t provide the exact number of uniform policemen and stewards they agree on during pre match meetings. Those in authority should take this issue seriously and make sure clubs always provide adequate security men at match venues before the kick-off of the match and not 27 minutes after match has kicked off.