Incredible! No one Knows Ibrahim Babale


I was in the BRT at the Ojota bus station one afternoon, around 2pm or so, when Ibrahim Babaale climbed into the public bus and sat down. Wow! Is that Babale? I asked myself, no it cannot. I looked around and peeped ahead, not a single person in the bus seems to recognise him or ask him for his autograph.

Babale was putting on a Kaftan with a casual Nike slippers, carrying a kit bag on his shoulder. He just sat there quietly like a nobody until we both disembarked at the Teslim Balogun stadium in Surulere Lagos. I was so surprise, no one knows Ibrahim Babale! Am I correct or was it just the ignorance of the people in that bus? I wanted to know, so I decided to carry out a random sampling among Nigeria Sports fans – in Kano, Abuja, Lagos, Akure, Port Harcourt – with a simple question “Who is Ibrahim Babale?”

“Does the name ring a bell? No no it doesn’t.” one of my respondent replied in our phone chat. And of the 100 respondents, only 5 of them in Akure have a vague idea of who Babale is. It’s incredible what the media black out has done to most Nigeria sports personalities. In fact, most football fans in Nigeria could easily recognize an average player like Defoe in English Premier League (EPL); or if our own Osaze Odewingie, who plays for minor West-Bromich Albon, appears at the Ojota bus station… There will be such a stampede of people rushing out to have a gleams of him. But for Ibrahim Babale, no one knows him.

“It’s shear neon-colonialism!” My friend Ken Obiora tried to emphasis, “Nigeria media has failed Nigeria sports. They would rather report EPL news or other Europe Leagues than the NPL news.” “It so bad…” Mr. Obiora continued, “Media practitioners in Nigeria love ‘desk journalism.’ They can sit in their office or at home and browse through the Internet or through Cable TV to get all the news they can report the next day.” This is one reason EPL, Serial A, La’liga dominate news reports and sports programs in Nigeria. The journalists have easy access to those information.

Well, we should not blame them solely, NPL have the responsibility to provide information to the media. NPL should have a vibrant, pro-active media relations and information department that will ensure journalists have easy access to NPL up-to-date information and stories. Secondly, there should be such a media palling that will ensure journalists reduce negative reports of made in Nigeria football.

Apart from NPL, clubs should as well have a vibrant media or public relations department that will always liaise with the press and encourage them to publish or broadcast positive stories about the club. This is what is obtainable in Europe. Most EPL clubs have aggressive marketing department that has a well planned out strategies and programs to capture fans interest toward their club. They produce different kinds of documentaries, Brochures, gazettes, media hypes on the transfer market and selected games…

For their aggressive marketing actions, European clubs have captured the interest of Nigeria fans. Babalola Ojo said, “Journalists can only report news stories that arouses the people’s interest; that’s the only way they can sell their newspapers and magazines or get people to watch their show on television.” The average Nigeria football fan supports either Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Barca… The public interest has relegated NPL news reports on the inside back page of most sports newspapers. No newspaper publishers in Nigeria can risk featuring NPL news on the front page – Nobody will buy.

In as much as the facts on ground look so gloomy, something can still be done to rescue our football from dying. Lets take a cue from English media. They ‘over hype’ the EPL and make ordinary EPL players look like a superstar. This is how they captured the world interest and today EPL is the most followed league in the world.

NFF, NPL and media should build a stronger relationship. There is need for orientation on how to build the made in Nigeria football brand and get the interest of our fans back. An illustrious football industry will definitely create wealth for our nation and more employment for our youth.

It’s not good business that most football fans in Nigeria does not know Ibrahim Abubakar Babale, The Sunshine football club prolific striker, who has been very consistent in NPL top goal scorers for three years now, and yet nobody knows him. The like of Ibrahim Babale, Ahamed Musa, Akparadut Orok, Ajani Ibrahim, Ekigho Ehiosun… should be a household name in Nigeria.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.