Making Nigerian Football Attractive in a Digital Age
Making Nigerian Football Attractive in a Digital Age by Precious Marho
The game of football which essentially entails kicking a ball with the foot to score a goal has grown into such an entertainment colossus, with around 3.5 billion estimated fans across the planet. And, it isn’t too difficult to see why.
Amidst the travails of everyday life, football provides an often needed diversion. The fact that the boulevard of this ‘diversion’ returns excitement and a feeling of being part of something bigger than oneself commingled with a sense of belonging does no harm to the ‘spectacle’. The universal appeal of ‘the beautiful game’ has brought about such an enormous fan base, that one might ostensibly consider pointless the idea of football re-evaluating its operating model. But in a rapidly evolving world; there is yet need for the beautiful game to evolve, and awake to the plethora of opportunities the contemporary has made possible. Football leagues around the world have begun fine-tuning their operating models to befit the digital age and it is absolutely essential for Nigerian football to follow suit; if only to attract the new generation of digital natives and attain significance in an ever changing world.
The digital age (also termed the information age); characterised by the presence of tools (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Alphabet, et al.) that make information sharing across the world effortless; provides the capacity to expand the reach of the Nigerian league and sell abroad the passion of the local fans. Unfortunately, amongst a majority of Nigerians, there barely exists an interest for the happenings in the local league. There is therefore precious little passion to sell. Whether or not the apathy stems from the quality of football on display, or an aversion towards the organization and management of the league remains debatable; but, with the league’s record for producing quality football players, many of whom have gone on to represent the national team, one strongly suspects it is the latter. The onus therefore rests on the league management and organisers to through concrete actions; seek to sway the attitude of the Nigerian public toward their own. Because without an audience to ‘leverage’, all the digital refinements will be ineffective to any brand. So, how will the audience be attracted? Perhaps, creating a conducive fan atmosphere and ensuring stadium security across the league may be a good way to start. It is crucial for people to know that their safety is guaranteed whenever they visit the stadiums. Besides, it wouldn’t at all impede the objective if league fixtures were properly scheduled, player welfare prioritised, stadium infrastructures rehabilitated, and the officiating; fairer.
These measures would bring in viewers and the sheer appeal of the beautiful game will breed excitement amongst them; making them fans. A fan will be a tad more interested in ‘liking’, ‘tweeting’ and ‘sharing’ contents as pertains to the club he supports. Ultimately however, the aim is to channel the passion of the fans to boost the league’s attractiveness and popularity in the nouveau digital.
Also, resources- human and financial; should be devoted towards advertising and promoting the league across mainstream social media platforms.
Provision should be made for a team within the organisational structure of these clubs whose job description will encompass ‘digital public relations’. This ‘digital team’ will flood the internet with aptly edited videos of local football action- showing pieces of individual brilliance, goalkeeping extraordinaire, quality sequences, and hilarious goofs. This will also advertise the league- creating more ‘likeable’, ‘tweetable’ and ‘shareable’ content; thereby inundating football enthusiasts home and abroad with Nigerian football, if by any means, converting them into fans. Furthermore, wisdom demands that all local football clubs create their individual website: from where they can stream matches, share content, videos, promotions and sell ticket and club merchandises- creating a greater allure to the digital generation who crave for a far more engaging, appealing and connected experience with the teams they cheer.
Additionally, Nigerian mainstream social media platforms should be encouraged to do more to boost the league’s profile. If relentless media hype and savvy promotions can sell a boxing mis-match between a 49-0 undefeated great and a novice making his professional debut; the football equivalence of Real Madrid against, say, your’s sincerely and his merry band of friends, surely, Nigerian football can be attractively packaged and sold.
In conclusion, accomplishing the goal requires a marathonic exertion. But, one thing is clear; this is an exertion not to be evaded.
This article was written by Precious Marho. For more of his write ups, visit successcharisma.