7 Minutes with China: A League has no name

The Nigeria Premier Football League kicks off this weekend. Still, the question on the lips of more than seventy-five per cent of football-watching Nigerians is, “What is the Nigerian League?”

If you are a fan of TV series, then you probably have watched Game of Thrones, and you probably have seen Arya Stark, and of course, you would probably have heard the words, “A Girl has no name” said lots of times.

Once again, the Nigerian League will start without fanfare. No activations, no Social Media engagements, no buzz on radio, TV or even on the streets. The only people who know the league is starting and looking forward to it are the players, coaches, club officials, a few journalists and the area boys who will soon start to earn money. What happens to the fans? A league has no name.

As Fisayo Dairo, Chief Football Writer of ACLSports.com said on a sports show on Wazobia FM Port Harcourt, “Even if na Inter House sports or Dean’s Cup for University, you don’t just call people with four days notice and tell them to gather and play something as big as a football league.”

A lot of times, when Davido is about to release a new single or go on a tour, there is a scandal about him on Social Media. Whether you like it or not, it creates some buzz around him before he hits the airwaves with quality music. Just recently, Burna Boy was said to have criticised the new wave of Afro-Beat artists in Nigeria, just in time for a lot of us to listen to his new album with the mind of returning the favour to him. What did he achieve? Hundreds of thousands of streams of his songs, but the Nigerian League just starts, because it has to start. A league has no name.

Fix Nigeria and you fix the league

For a few millions and the right arrangement, Burna Boy can help Gen Z figure out what the league is about

This statement above is what some of us, myself inclusive, used to say. Nigeria is in a bad state, economy and all. If you fix Nigeria, then you fix the league, right? Wrong!!!

Davido, Burna Boy, Wizzkid, Timaya, Arya Starr, Teni, Asake, Olamide, TuFace Idibia, Phino Phyno, Flavour and a host of others have made good music and good money without fixing Nigeria, so how did they do it? Good content, good vibes, a solid team, appealing to Gen Z and the millennials, good activations, but most of all, having a plan to succeed.

Big brands falls over each other to sponsor this show

The economy is poor, so we cannot have sponsors for the league as the naira keeps falling against the dollar. Fix Nigeria and you fix Nigerian football, so how come 28 people sit in a house, eating, drinking, playing games, dancing and having sex, yet they are crowded over with billions of naira in sponsorship, just for a three-month program? Was Nigeria fixed? A league has no name.

If the product is not attractive, then no one will care about how much noise you make about your product. In this case, we are not even making any noise about the product, as though we are ashamed of what we are selling. Let us just start the league, regardless. A league has no name.

2009 on my mind

Duncan Mighty sings to a packed stadium at halftime in Port Harcourt

In 2010, when I worked at Dolphins FC, we were in the 2nd tier Pro 1 Division and had qualified for the Premier League with one game to spare, and it was a home game against First Bank FC.

We thought we should celebrate our return to the top flight with that dead rubber game, so I got together with Otis Asonye, the chairman of the supporters club, Azunda Wobo, and a few others to start planning for the final game.

We thought we could mix entertainment with football and we sought out three of the biggest acts in Port Harcourt at the time- Duncan Mighty, Stone Cold and Sky B to perform before, during and after the game.

The idea was to bring people to the stadium who may not naturally care about football, but love music. It was a massive success, but we couldn’t replicate this in the top flight due to peculiar issues.

Away from the the League organisers, so when will Rivers United convince Burna Boy or Timaya to shoot their next music video wearing their jerseys, or even attend their home game? When will Sporting Lagos convince Olamide to sign up with the club? When will the league convince Burna Boy or TuFace Idibia to be its face? When will Enugu Rangers make Phino Phyno or Flavour their ambassadors? And this is not because of anything, but the fact that Gen Z who currently determine what trends in today’s world do not even know what on earth is Enyimba, Kano Pillars, Rivers United or Abia Warriors. Take a random sample in your city and see what percentage know what these things are. A league has no name.

The Nigeria Premier Football League should do better than just starting. The question is, who is watching? How do we make them watch? How do we get new fans for the league? Why should they even manage a thing that has no hype around it? Gen Z? Come On! What are we doing in Nigeria?

In this weekend’s games, some teams will get three points, others will lose three points, and the rest will share the spoils, it will be back to your tents until the next match day.

Before I start receiving calls and WhatsApp messages, this is not a criticism of the league or the organisers, but more like a call to excellence. Yes, we understand the prevailing situation, but indeed we can do much better.

Until we give the league a name, the people who are supposed to fill up the empty seats in the terraces will continue to remain at home to listen to Apple music from their handheld devices, drink beer and take pepper soup, go to the cinema to see movies, watch the European leagues at home, or just hang around in house parties with their friends drinking and playing Truth or Dare. A league has no name, and until we give the league a name, we will continue to run round and round in cycles.

So, the Nigerian top-flight league really starts this weekend? Indeed, the league has no name

My 7 minutes are up

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