For the very first time in recent memory, no Nigerian league game has had such frenzied coverage both online and in traditional media like the one between Ikorodu United and MFM FC.
Even though the game ended in a goalless draw, it was by no means a dull encounter. The biggest story from the encounter however. was the vibe that it generated online as the hashtag #LagosDerby trended on Twitter from Sunday until late on Monday.
According to tracking site Keyhole, there were 301 posts using #LagosDerby between March 6 and March 8, 2016 from 166 users with a reach of 2,259,828 which made 3,642,686 impressions. 82 per cent of the tweets came from Nigeria with the rest from the the USA (9%), Great Britain (6%), France, Ghana, Indonesia and Finland. 93% of the tweets came from men and women 7%
In any other major sporting event around the world, these numbers would not be a big deal. But for a domestic league game in Nigeria that had to compete with games involving Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus and Barcelona on the same day, it means a lot.
It means there is hunger for quality live local football in Lagos.
NPFL is big in Kano, where the Sani Abacha Stadium regularly witnesses full capacity whenever Kano Pillars play at home. It is also big in Aba, where Enyimba have always drawn their crowd.
However, Lagos the commercial capital of Nigeria has struggled to follow the local league over the years since the demise of Julius Berger and Stationery Stores as well as the popularity of cable television which has brought closer home English Premiership and other top notch European football Leagues.
So it was nice to see famous actor Desmond Elliot in the stands on Sunday. It means that the local game can bring star-power to the stadium, which would mean that more fans can begin to see the NPFL as a veritable entertainment outlet where they can invest their time and money.
Fans Engagement and Side Attractions
At half time on Sunday, Ikorodu United gave out 10 GOtv decoders to ticketed fans via a raffle draw. This was a good way to connect with the fans and encourage more people to show up for future games.
Still, there’s more that can be done to give fans a fully rounded experience so that they can start connecting with the players and the teams.
Match programmes bearing players’ profiles and interesting little details can be produced by clubs and handed out to fans who purchase tickets.
There is the need for regulated food vendors inside the stadium so that fans can get refreshments at half time. There is room for businesses to take advantage of this.
Lagos is the centre of entertainment, our clubs need to rise up to merge football with music and give fans a generally jolly good time at the stadium.