The Nigerian domestic league is definitely not something to write home about.
From a not-too-analytical point of view, I think it would be really cool if the Nigerian League received the type of response the English Premier League receives from our countrymen today, if the prospect of Sunday fixtures between Enyimba and Pillars could be as anticipated as the El Classico, if rows and rows of football enthusiasts filled up Nigerian stadiums and bought season tickets and wore the kits of their domestic club sides, if Nigerian League players did not have this ultimate collective aim of furthering their careers abroad and were not as anonymous as they are now. Yeah, that would be quite a big deal.
To dream this however, is only one half of the orange. The other half naturally, is making the dream a reality. How exactly can we make our league reflective of the (if not now, past) status of our nation as the giant of African footballing? How can we produce a league that would satisfy the many Nigerian football-mongers? Well, a couple of suggestions have been raised:
- Some people argue that like almost everything in this country, the league needs to be privatized totally; forget the government completely and sell shares to the numerous profit-oriented firms and enterprises in Nigeria to bring out the best in the clubs and invariably, the league. Newsflash: this has already been done to an extent, without any significant success. Glo and MTN have been the largest commercial cash-cows in the NPL but even with all their financial wherewithal, the league remains essentially where it was before they stepped in.
2. Others have argued that to save the NPL, the media should get more involved in the league’s proceedings. Pff!!! Where have you been? If anything, the media has gotten more and more involved in the NPL over the years such that the league is at present broadcast on the South African Supersports channel as well on many channels of reputable media houses in the country. Besides, this cannot be an effective ‘change agent’ as mass communication in any endeavor is an end-product factor used only to publicize good work. From where I stand, I see no good work to publicize.
3. Much to my excitement, more people argue that the NPL would take a complete round turn if money was invested to bring some of the best names in world football to Nigeria. True, imagine Messi in a Dolphins shirt. But this again is an end-product factor, to attract bright light to this country we have to at least have a light bulb.
4. Finally, others argue that we should rebrand the league totally. Give it a new name, logo, clubs , staff, officiating board, even power brokers. But then again, how many things have we ‘rebranded’ in Nigeria? And how many have we actually rebranded?
Getting our league right would be a huge plus for the federation, economically and otherwise. The above suggestions are just a few opinions on how best to go about this. What are yours? It’s a thought that I think you should start thinking right away.