Players of Heartland footballers have cried out over nonpayment of four (4) months salary which has since led most of their players to resort to other means to fend for themselves, including working as labourers and messengers to road construction contractors.
Our roving reporter who visited Naze, Owerri West on Monday sighted one of their utility players at an ongoing building project, carrying bags of cement. When our reporter identified him as one of the popular footballers and approached him to ascertain what went wrong, he feigned ignorant of what the reporter was saying in Igbo language.
At first, our reporter had thought the said footballer’s contract with Heart land FC has been terminated hence his decision to seek an alternative means to eke-out a living but far from that. The player who pleaded anonymity stated in contrary that he is still with Heartland FC. He narrated the deplorable and piteous condition of the players and how most of them have left camp to now indurge in other businesses, so as to earn a living.
Following this unhealthy development, our reporter reached out to a top management staff of the football club who also pleaded anonymity when confronted on the finding, he said, “I am not surprised to hear that our boys now walk the streets of Owerri in search of food”.
He said, “we have severally reached out to the governor through the appropriate channels but nothing is said to be done to ameliorate our plights. At first, we were asked to submit our BVN which we did three (3) months ago but nothing has been done”.
Speaking further, he said that the governor directed them to deal with the Deputy chief of staff on administration, Mr Victor Ikeji, saying that several visits to Government House Owerri, to have the footballers paid have not yielded any fruit. “All we keep hearing is come today, come tomorrow”.
Effort to reach Chief Charles Ezekwem, Chairman of Heartland Football Club was unsuccessful, as he didn’t take his calls at the time of going to the press.
Similarly, the Coach of Heartland Football Club Owerri, Mr Fidelis Ilechukwu when contacted declined comments, stating that he was not disposed to speak on the subject matter.