Towards a viable Nigerian football league | The Guardian Nigeria News

Sport, especially football, continues to offer multiple values ​​in Nigeria, including entertainment, employment, career opportunities, youth development and a rallying point for national unity and cohesion.

For the most populous black nation, with more than 200 million inhabitants and around 65% of the young population, football offers enormous prospects indeed. Available data indicates that around 80 million young supporters, active and latent, watch foreign football with around 10,000 companies scrambling for their attention.

While many Nigerians, especially young people, seek action in international football due to the quality of play, scintillating commentary, glamorous players, stunning goal displays and interactive fan engagement, one cannot not to say the same for the fans and enthusiasm drawn to the local league. at home.

Skillful dribbling, superlative goals, incredible saves, and precise kicks make foreign football quite irresistible, but the local league can step up.

In fact, Nigerian football over the years has seen a decline from what it was three decades ago, but the optics look brighter if calls and transformational moves by real actors are encouraged and supported with the required building blocks.

The potentials are truly huge, but the government needs to improve the enabling environment for football and the sports industry in general to thrive and develop faster. Improved safety and amenities would help as club management and administrators could quickly strive to attract many more fans with exciting side attractions and other incentives.

Almost 30 years ago the UK government invested £ 200million in the Premier League to strengthen infrastructure and by May 2021 the EPL was already worth over £ 18bn.

The average value of a Premier League team is now $ 1.29 billion, according to Sportico, who estimates England’s top 20 clubs to be worth more than $ 25 billion cumulatively.

Most recently, NBC won the Premier League television rights to exclusively broadcast all 380 games per season in the United States through the summer of 2028, under a six-year contract worth. £ 1.9 billion.

The deal is almost double the $ 1bn fee paid by NBC for Premier League television rights in 2015, meaning it is the biggest overseas television contract in the world. the history of the top English league.

This shows that Nigerian football, if properly operated and managed, could become an important revenue driver for the country, as Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, rightly noted: “Football is also business. ; when we can harness it properly, a lot of money can be made for the country through gambling, football.

“Football is an overwhelming moment of beauty, spirit and pride and in Africa’s most populous country that passion is palpable.” The FIFA boss made the comment during his visit to Lagos for the first edition of the AITEO-Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) awards.

Truly, the Nigerian local league is gradually gaining momentum and with the support of a few patriotic companies, which believe in the growth of the Nigerian brand and gradually breathe life into the league.

Their patriotic efforts are helping the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) to grow at its own pace despite the urges of foreign football.

The NPFL has also not been without its own magical moments, raising local champions, who are international stars, including Ahmed Musa, Daniel Akpeyi and Junior Lokosa, who are all doing well in their own right and continue to impress the football fans around the world. .

With the continued support of companies that are not drawn to the mad rush, the NPFL can achieve enviable status. Eunisell Limited has remained one of those very rare and constant supporters of the local football league in Nigeria.

The specialty engineering and chemical production solutions company began sponsoring Nigeria’s Premier National League in 2015 and subsequently entered the National League’s record books as Nigeria’s first club sponsor at achieve four consecutive seasons – as a sponsor of Rivers United FC. The company continues to support the club and said they have big plans for the fans for the new season.

In 2018, he also launched the Eunisell Boot Award, which honors and rewards players with cash prizes at the end of the football season with a bonus of N 200,000 per goal. This rekindled the excitement in the league. Year after year, the top players in the Nigerian league express their joy at the initiative and their desire to work harder, score more goals and clinch the annual award.

Kano Pillars striker Junior Lokosa won the first edition with 19 goals and secured 3.8million naira for the 2017/2018 NPFL season. Following the 2020/21 season, the duo of Silas Nwankwo of Nasarawa United and Charles Atshimene of Akwa United were announced as co-winners of the Eunisell Boot Prize with a cash prize of 7.6million naira for also scoring 19 goals.

Ahead of the resumption of preparations for the Professional Football League of Nigeria on December 17, Chika Ikenga, Founder / Managing Director of the Eunisell Group, reaffirmed Eunisell Boot as a catalyst to instill greatness in the national elite players and celebrate their success. He stressed that the initiative is a confirmation of Eunisell’s commitment to the development of Nigerian football.

“Too often we lose sight of the importance of the national league and its players, preferring to follow the European and British leagues for example.

“What we forget is that a significant percentage of these talented players are Nigerians who started their careers at home in the local league – and what is even more remarkable is the fact that our young stars rise to the top here and abroad without taking advantage of local academies or sponsors in their formative years.

“The prestigious trophy and the value of the Eunisell Boots award will inspire players to perform better. We believe and are indeed proud to be associated with our local stars, ”he noted.

About the author