Sunday, October 21, 2007

God speed, Coach Tella ' Tears for loss of excellence and wisdom'

I spent the whole of yesterday in the Best of Nigeria Exhibition at the EXCEL centre in the East End of London and little did I know in fact we had just lost one of the genuine and proven best of Nigeria. I woke up this morning to tears of loss and my own sense of despair. I suspect overnight or possibly earlier the Nigerian nation, the world of football and those dedicated to management excellence lost a great man Coach Yomi Tella. Coach Tella is the World beating coach of the Nigerian Under 17 Champions of the FIFA world cup. The coach in the face of lung cancer, discovered during his preparation for the Cup and whilst away in Korea put his health on the line. He oversaw this rare display of Nigerian group rather than individual excellence. What makes this a phenomenal achievement was that throughout the Cup his team was unbeaten, did not earn a single red card or even a high yellow card count. They were top scorers, to say they outperformed everyone with both style and outcomes is close to an understatement. Those who read my postings will also note I raised his attitude and body language throughout the games. His composure whether losing or winning was completely at odds with the usual Nigerian exuberance and loudness.

In any country in which people are truly dedicated to the power of ideas and learning there would be a book about Coach Tella. A book to explore and analyse his approach to management as well as his inspirational quality as a leader. In my humble opinion no country can need it more. Rather than rallying and focusing on examples of failure and corruption only we can also highlight and explore proven examples of world class success. In a country like Nigeria where heroes are scarce and cynicism has become the spread with which he eat our daily bread this man sacrificed his life to leave a legacy. The shame is that the Nigerian memory is very short. The usual gifts have been given, the National awards pinned on flowing agbada and the politicians with their bag carrying simpletons spread their ill earned largesse like confetti. The Coach went back to Lagos forgotten and his approach almost ignored. This was a man dismissed as a classroom coach by the press and commentators before the world cup. His team unfancied by those who could not recognise any of their names and of course they are not signed up to the British premiership, so who were they really? Even when they had won the Cup our usual self loathing drove a popular newspaper to encourage readers to question the age of the participating boys. To question whether their win was legitimate.

This man was not a manufactured hero , he was the real deal. We are no longer a discerning people whose eyes can see the woods from the trees so he passes without the kind of profound legacy that should meet his demise. I did have a moment of wishful thinking in which I planned to interview the coach as part of the book I am writing on Omoluwabi as a management approach. It seems it is too late.

For many football is only a sport. It is more than that. It is a metaphor for many things especially management and organisation. It is a way to explore evolution through competition and cooperation. I paraphrase a much quoted British coach , Some say football is a matter of life and death, we say it is much more than that.

Good Bye and God Speed Coach Tella

1 comment:

CATWALQ a.k.a LAGBA-JESS said...

May he rest in peace.

I have always said to myself that I do not really want accoladed to herald my passing or my life but that my actions have given someone somewhere the push they needed to do what they needed to do