GRASSROOTS TALENT HUNTING: Five New Ways Brands Are Capturing The Interest Of Nigeria Football Fans

Four out of every five football fans in Nigeria say, they no longer have interest in Nigeria football. They spend most of their time following English Premier League (EPL),  Spanish La’ liga, Italian Seria’A… Well, that’s not good news for several brands like Guinness, Glo, MasterCard… that regard sponsorship of football as an important component of their promotional mix; and want to use local contents to reach the over 50 million football fans in Nigeria.

Football remain the number one sport in Nigeria no doubt, but the challenge has been with Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Nigeria Premier League (NPL), which couldn’t put their acts together in the organization and administration of the sport. Today, most football fans in Nigeria have lost faith over their dismal performances. The evidence could be seen with the way stadium are usually empty during NPL games. It has been a thing of worry and continuous conflict between sponsors and NPL, because it doesn’t make any business sense for a brand to continue to sponsor a league that doesn’t attract both fans and media.

The good news is, sponsors has found other ways to capture the interest of Nigerian fans, by creating their own football events  or by sponsoring some non-traditional football events such as Football Reality TV show, Five-Aside, Beach Soccer…. And it’s amazing the kind of results they are getting for their brand image and exposure. Let me  recap some of them.

1.      Reality TV Show (Oceanic Bank Fash. F.C): The defunct Oceanic bank Plc, came with a big bang the first football reality show on TV that captivated over 70 million television viewers across Nigeria. The show was anchored by an ex-international, John Fashanu, to select Fash.F.C. team among some grassroots players that registered for the show. It was the talk of the town among football fans and the show gave Oceanic bank a brand boost.

2.      Inter-Street Competition (Gulder Five-Aside): Nigeria breweries brand – Gulder, got the whole streets in Lagos rumbling with Gulder Five-Aside street football challenge. Captivating youth between the age of 16 – 30 years. It’s one street competition you need to see yourself.  Many young talents are discovered each year.

3.      Novelty Game (Pepsi Beach Soccer): Pepsi took every football fan to bar beach In Victoria Island Lagos to have fun and to participate in novelty beach soccer game; where male and female played together in a team as well as watch the game between Nigeria sand eagles take on Brazilian beach soccer team. It was a memorable experience for those that attended and those that watched it on  TV. It’s Pepsi all the way.

4.      Catch Them Young Developmental Football (Milo Football Clinic):  A nation wild football clinic organized by Nestles premium brand Milo for young and intending football players from age 11 to 15 years; to develop them on fundamental tactics and rules of the game. The program is currently anchored by Nigeria ex-international goal keeper, Peter Rufai. It’s a soccer camp where children leave their homes for two weeks to live and experience the life of professional football players.

5.      Talent Hunting (Copa Coca Cola): Coca cola open happiness for all grassroots football players across the 36 states of Nigeria. It’s an opportunity for unknown talents in remote vilages of Nigeria to be discovered. It’s a talent hunt program that raises a team for each state and get some Nigeria ex-internationals like Nduka Ugbade, Victor Ikpeba, Emmanuel Amunike, Thompson Oliha…,to take charge of each team in a national competition. After which, a national team is selected to go for African competition and then, international try out with some top youth teams abroad.

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