Form follows function, a school of thought in Architecture that posits that the final outlook of a building depends on its purpose. It is why a religious building is different from a residence, and why residences cost more than the other. A tenement building is in contrast with a bungalow or a duplex. As the parlance goes, “There are levels to these things”. It reinforces the idea that design is all about perception. The outlook defines interest and prospective end product.
“How you tell your own story is as important as the life you live.”
Life in itself is a boat of perception. Outlook. It is the birth of class, systems and divisions. Its currency is value. If you are perceived as high class or high fashion, value rises, monetary or resource wise. It is why millennials go through the stress of image creation on social media. The illusion of perception is another topic entirely. Social media is an even playing field, everyone is of the same age grade and class, until perception begins to alter the scape. It possesses its own crème de la crème, a folk who can’t afford to pay rent can view him/herself as on the same level with Elon Musk or Femi Otedola, the reason? Illusion and Perception.
On social media, it’s hard to distinguish Bundesliga clubs based on their social media prowess, Leverkusen are the Champions on that front, yet they have never won a Bundesliga title in their history. Leipzig aren’t far behind, with topnotch banter and polite savagery reeling in fans, only ten years ago, they didn’t exist. A social media newbie would be forgiven for thinking they were one of Germany’s established powerhouses.
Social Media is opening new frontiers for football clubs. It is perhaps the biggest global market. Liverpool’s new Nike deal was partly influenced by social media perception; mega stars with gargantuan following, representing huge brands and embodying a value system. Sound familiar? Now, tradition and heritage is not enough, brand leverage and content is King. Ask Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, the only African teams on the FIFA series. The former’s fiftieth anniversary Jersey has been remodeled for FC Barcelona’s away kit in 2020/21. Levels? Yes.
Zamalek, Al Ahly, Wydad, Raja, Esperance, Mazembe and ES Sahel are charting the course. Mazembe and Esperance are opening club stores abroad. According to legendary coach, Pitso Mosimane, Mamelodi Sundowns are building a global brand. Masandawana are building legacy. It’s the goal for Africa’s big clubs. It’s a class that Nigeria’s top teams should belong in.
Unfortunately for Nigerian football, their leading clubs Enyimba, Shooting Stars and Enugu Rangers still rely solely on tradition. In order for the brand of local Nigerian football to improve to the level that their players playing abroad have, the top clubs have to strive toward creating a global brand.
Change is constant, just as perception is.
This year, Rangers International and Kano Pillars celebrate their fiftieth and thirtieth anniversaries. But it doesn’t feel like it. There is no website, there is no information that shows or creates an impression that the club have a landmark achievement. It is acrimonious at best. Football clubs should not joke with such.
Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns are commemorating their anniversaries in different ways. The former has begun celebrations since the turn of the year, with social media awash with Legends, Administrators, Histories and Club Achievements. The fans weren’t left out of the fest either, with social media trends and challenges keeping them in the loop. Sundowns began much later, with fans asked to create an anniversary anthem as well as other challenges. The jerseys ooze anniversary, activities laced in sponsorships.
Nigerian teams lack this greatly. Podcaster and content curator, Rotimi Daramola (who wrote the article linked above) believes this lack of activity is a damning verdict on a country laced with content like gold on expensive lace. On Facebook, all clubs bar one have multiple official accounts with various creation dates. It is a red flag for sponsorship.
Six Clubs last posted on Facebook in March, with only Enyimba, FCIU and Akwa United posting in the month of August. The frequency of the posts sting, with the eleven clubs to have their last post in July averaging just over three posts a month. The numbers are anything but encouraging. The peculiarities of the world now make it imperative to keep fans together online. In a country where football is more than just a sport and every member of the populace is a “coach”, one remains perplexed at the state of the local league.
On Twitter, Only four clubs keep constant touch, Enyimba, Abia Warriors, Akwa United and Rangers (currently on a second account). Dakkada’s account is no more. Lobi Stars and FCIU had a two-month gap in between their last three posts. Sunshine had two weeks. Kwara United and MFM have only done celebratory posts since the league ended. Nasarawa United and Jigawa Golden Stars last tweeted in March, Adamawa in April. Heartland, Warri Wolves have a month between their last two posts.
How do the fans stay informed? How is the team being run? It begs the question if the football clubs are seen as nothing but a cash cow. Sports may be CSR, but it also does reveal the lack of vision that individuals in the corridors of Nigerian clubs have.
How you tell your own story is as important as the life you live. While many point fingers at the LMC, perhaps questions should be asked of club administrators who once condemned the demise of Nigerian football, but have now joined in the pillage of its ruins. Doing for the sake of doing is needless. Mediocrity is not an answer. Perhaps the perceived fear of being exposed should the club be well documented in the media is a challenge.
History may be forgiving, the present may be allowing, but the future will ask why both refused to act when it could. Media Officers may not yet realize, but their contribution to the growth of the league is bigger than those of their bosses. For a “billion-naira league”, the NPFL sure doesn’t feel, taste or look like it.
*Stats accurate as of August 8