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  • Monkey Post And The Challenge of Branding Nigerian League.

    Reporter: Alonge Akinlolu
    Published: Tuesday, 20 December 2016
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    It took Nigeria about 7 attempts and about 30 years of heartbreak and disappointment before they succeeded in appearing at the World Cup, that premier gathering of the finest football sides on the planet. And how they did announce their arrival.

    Monkey Post And The Challenge of Branding Nigerian League.

    Prior to the commencement of the competition in USA, the Super Eagles were perched on the 5th position of the monthly FIFA rankings. That was no mean feat in itself.

    The exciting Nigerian side consisting of the likes of Uche Okechukwu, Sunday Oliseh, Austin Okocha, Rashidi Yekini, Emmanuel Amuneke, Finidi George, Daniel Amokachi, Peter Rufai, Ben Iroha amongst others exhibited a brand of football that was entertaining and eye-catching to the neutrals but problematic and unpredictable to their opponents. They combined a dangerous attacking threat with typical African strength, something that opponents found difficult to deal with.

     After an adventure that was sadly short-lived, many had expected the Super Eagles to build on their impressive showing at their maiden mundial appearance to consolidate their stance as one of the game’s top sides in successive editions of the tournament. Instead they have flattered to deceive, failing to qualify for the World Cup and even when they do, making little to no impact at the competition.

    A large part of the blame for this disappointing and unfortunate situation can be attributed to the lack of a distinct football identity or culture. Over the years, there has been noticeable characteristics that one could say makes up the Nigerian game.

    The average Nigerian footballer is very skillful, improvises, is tenacious, powerful, full of stamina and possesses a trick or two to bambozzle opponents. That technical aspect; the possession of skills and tricks, is an attribute shared with Brazil and other South American countries.

    The crucible where this ability is honed is the street. Monkey post, a 3- to 5-a-side game played at a pace similar to American Basketball required the adoption and acquisition of skills like stamina, tenacity, skill, trickery and improvisation to succeed. Unbeknown to many, even its ardent practitioners, it was this game that built the archetypal Nigerian footballer. Henry Nwosu, Thompson Usiyen, Christian Chukwu, Godwin Odiye, Benji Nzeakor, Aloysius Atuegbu, Muda Lawal, Stephen Keshi, Clement Temile, Monday Odiaka, Sampson Siasia can all credit their rise to fame and stardom to Monkey Post.
    Monkey Post And The Challenge of Branding Nigerian League.

    This unlikely football factory was the conveyor belt that club sides in the Nigerian domestic league fed from. There is no Nigerian footballer who didn’t play Monkey Post or who won’t attribute a large part of his footballing ability to Monkey Post. Put in another way, every one of Nigerian players exported from these shores possessed that DNA that usually stood him out wherever he went. Despite this, precious little is done to preserve this very important artifact of our football culture.

    While beer giants, Gulder, started an initiative, the Gulder 5-a-side competition, the enthusiasm for it has fizzled out. If efforts by the NFF and LMC to brand Nigerian football league is to yield positive fruit then keen attention has to be paid to Monkey Post.

    As ludicrous and preposterous as it may sound, Monkey Post holds the key to preserving our football culture and identity, and protecting it from the pervasive predation of European football.
    Monkey Post And The Challenge of Branding Nigerian League.

    No country offers a better warning and lesson in this regard like Brazil. Famed for their attractive and attacking brand of football, (Samba or Jogo  Bonito), the South Americans had the Favelas to thank for consistently churning out the talents that ensured that they maintained a strangle-hold on world football for close to half a century.

    The Favelas are slums and shanty towns located around big cities like Rio de Janeiro. In every nook and cranny, mostly dirt streets, football was played avidly by young and old, male and female. As these Favelas began to disappear (demolished to make way for industrialization as well as curb crime), so did these other-worldly factory line of talents begin to disappear. It should therefore not be a surprise that Brazil has lacked a unanimously agreed candidate deserving of the award for the game’s finest player for almost a decade now.

    Compare that with Nigeria’s inability to produce a player worthy of the award of Africa’s player of the year. In the light of this anomaly, efforts should be made by the NFF, LMC, Support The NPFL initiative and corporate sponsors to revive interest in this culturally relevant brand, Monkey Post.

    This is because it holds the seeds to making the Nigerian Football League globally appealing. A Committee (Monkey Post panel) should be set up by the NFF and LMC charged with the responsibility of organizing competitions at the state, regional and national level. Corporate sponsors should be encouraged to be part of the initiative. Prizes should be given to team and players that exhibit an admirable skill and technique set and among the incentives given to them should be a contract at a top NPFL side.

    While efforts are being made to market the league, it is the fans more than any other variable that would make this possible. And what does the average fan want to see to see other than good football?

    Our innate and beautiful style of football, that produced  greats like Muda Lawal, Segun Odegbami, Henry Nwosu, Benji Nzeakor (the same Benji Nzeakor who popularized the Rainbow flick aka Cabin Biscuit), Kanu Nwankwo Karibe Ojigwe, Finidi George, Tarila Okorowanta, Etim Esin and a horde of others should not be allowed to fizzle out in our pursuit and desire to play like the Europeans because if we do, we risk perpetually remaining in their shadows, unable to assert any semblance of dominance in continental or global football competitions.


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