The Nigerian Football Dream - The Vision We Have Carried in Our Heart for So Long

[Documentary By Benson Chukwueke -A Sport Marketing Practitional in Nigeria]

In 1996, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) overly delighted with the kind of players assembled by Johannes Bonfrere, the dutch tactian incharge of Nigeria Olympic men football team, decided to name the squad "Dream Team."  A name adopted from the all conquering US Men basketball team popularly known as "The American Dream Team."

True to their name, the Nigerian version of the dream team, went against all odds to win the Gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games. Amazingly, with such a dramatic come back from 1 - 3 trailing to defeat the star studded Brazilian national team 4 - 3 at the Semi- finals and Argentina 2 - 1 at the finals of the men football event. That stunning performance brought the Nigeria brand of football to global prominence and indeed, presented the country in a positive light among the community of nations.

The whole country of about 170 people where held spellbound over a week in euphoric celebration of the success of their dream team. One Gold medal that mattered so much to everyone citizen of Nigeria, overshadowing the first ever olympic gold medal won by Chioma Ajunwa,  in the same Atlanta game, in the triple jump event.

Football is more than a sport in Nigeria. The passion for football in this largest black nation on earth is something else. When any of the National teams play, a country that is largely divided in tribe, religon and ideals, are bounded in a phantom unity... and with one voice cheering their national team to victory, not minding their differences anymore.

Football provide opimum of unity that most sarcastics say last for just 90minutes or so. But it sends a clear message: "We Are Better Together!"

The Nigerian football dream, typically a story of grass to grace. Of once an orange hawker in the streets of Enugu, who often stepped aside the child labour,  juggling a ball of orange with his bare feets, later to become JayJay Okocha, one of the most skillful football star ever seen on planet earth...earning $17 million USD in PSG as one of the world's highest paid footballer at that time. The Nigerian football dream is a story of poverty to opulence, obscurity to. Prominence.... The vision over 50 million young Nigerians carry in their hearts today.

Like the American dream, the Nigerian football dream is that dream of a divine elixir in the beautiful game of football that showcase the positive side of Nigerian sportsmanship, building a more binding relationship, mending brigdes and creating opportunities in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone in our country.

The Nigerian football dream is a set of ideals in which our endowment in football should achieve internal unity, global prominence and the opportunity for prosperity and success among our people, that should consequently lead to an upward socio-economic mobility for our country.

It takes a visionary to pursue this dream, the passion and hope of over 170 people to continually enjoy football and enjoy life in this West African country. The 3 creeds being as follows:
1. Use football to brand or rebrand Nigeria into global prominence.
2. Use football as a vehicle to achieving more lasting relationship among the several ethnic, religous and economic divides in Nigeria.
3. Use football to create opportunity for prosperity and upward mobility for families in the country.

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