Abdulahi Alausa, Edward Ansah, and others were regular names in secondary school when we could recite all the popular names of Nigerian league football players. From IICC Shooting Stars (now called Shooting Stars) to Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now called Heartland) to the beautiful Rangers, I knew many. Radio Nigeria was the key source as we hooked to radios to listen to the games.
When I made it to FUT Owerri, the first call was to visit Dan Anyiam stadium, and that was the day I met Kanu Nwankwo, the Papillo. He was not playing that day; it was a game with Julius Berger.
Then, as academic work mounted in FUTO, I forgot football. It was a lot of stress dedicating time for games with all the hassles of entering and leaving the stadium. Possibly, a TV program would have simplified that friction, providing an opportunity to stay home while connecting to the games via TV. Of course, over time, European football did just that and effected a disintermediation, disconnecting African football, via Supersport which is controlled by MultiChoice’s DStv.
MultiChoice, Amazon Prime or Netflix will likely win the next European football TV rights, for Africa. But who will go for Nigerian League and make it a show, not just football? When you watch Supersport, you do not watch football, you have a show. The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) does not know how to package games yet. It may not make sense but for companies like iROKOtv, putting Nigerian and other African football leagues, as a show, not just football, could create a differentiation.
I still think Enyimba, Kano Pillars and others can offer good entertainment if we have a higher quality presentation of the games on TV. So, as we fret over DStv and its monopoly, there is a latent opportunity to get African football going.
This is the deal: Nigeria and broad African football could offer a real opportunity to any startup which can organize these games and make them better entertainment. We must not overly see football from the lens of DStv Supersport. Think of a startup with a focus on sports which can make these African games better shows.