Why Africans should monetarize STREET SOCCER
According to him, street soccer is a brand, and every brand needs publicity. Also, traditional media needs to support street soccer with publicity.
There are several African great footballers who began their career unofficially from the street: Didier Drogba, Taribo West, Yaya Toure, Mikel Obi, Paul Pogba, Nwankwo Kanu, Mohamed Salah, just to mention few. Street soccer was their first display, and it is from street footballing that some saw a future in their fun game and finally got signed to local and then international clubs. Hence, the street has never stopped producing, preparing and polishing would-be champions for great football clubs. Yet, this grassroot sports arena needs a lot of publicity and monetarizing because it is doing the most for legendary careers and can be traced to one African street or another.
Oluwatimilehin Asaolu, is a Nigerian whose greatness stems from street soccer. Timi, who began playing football around age five, now plays in one of the football academies in the state capital of Nigeria. Sasere Franklin, a popular Ondo State indigene who also began from street soccer, gives a lot back to his community. According to him, while club football covers a wider range of skills, and an academy like the one he belongs teaches a player tactics, positional play and lots more, street soccer is different for it is more often than not a personal training ground for him, and a meeting point for other athletes like himself vying for greener pastures. Although they play street soccer for fun, there is a competitiveness amongst the players.
Street soccer can be monetarized and gain equal attention, like club football, through organizing street football competitions, which would draw the attention of club managers and owners, rather that the claque these street talents currently receive. According to Timi, many club managers know the value and the strength of players because their current team members invite their friends. Little wonder Timi believes that if “there’s really a good promotion program of street football in Africa, sales of African players will be more than before.”
Alvin Wesonga, a passionate Kenyan sports journalist, believes there are other sports, such as hockey, that should be monetarized. He believes that even street soccer can be monetarized to
value the effort and appreciate these talented street entertainers and athletes.
Wesonga explains, “Street football is way much better and competitive than the top tier league in Kenya. People get in there to enjoy themselves. The community uses this as a tool to try and give the players a reason to express their talent. It’s a huge task to monetize this but communities try to monetize it by using any means possible. For example, I recently witnessed a community team selling seats during match day. For you to get a plastic chair and watch the match at your comfort you pay some amount and get your chair. Although it’s a little hectic to get sponsors and investors on board, but it will definitely pay once the top tier leagues show what value football can bring to the sponsors. It’s a pyramid, and a cycle.”
Sadly, the issue of monetarizing street soccer or supporting local African clubs is as a result of many Africans love and loyalty to everything foreign. Alvin believes that Africans have issues supporting their own kind or kind of sports but won’t fail to render their unalloyed allegiance to other leagues like the English Premier League, LaLiga, and UEFA Champions League. Hence, investors and club sponsors, both foreign and local, do not see the need to focus on investing in something that they consider doesn’t add value to them.
“I’ll give you a case of Telkom Hockey Club in Kenya, they are the record champions in the African Club Competition but Telkom withdrew their sponsorship because there isn’t value for
Street soccer can be monetarized and gain equal attention, like club football, through organizing street football competitions, which would draw the attention of club managers and owners, rather that the claque these street talents currently receive.
money. In Kenya 80% of the Football teams are suffering financially because of the same reason. No investments, but why? The answer is obvious, no one will put their money where there isn’t value,” Wesonga stated.
According to him, street soccer is a brand, and every brand needs publicity. Also, traditional media needs to support street soccer with publicity. All forms of sport business are lucrative with the right publicity and support, and so would street soccer.
Truly, African street soccer can be monetarized without taking away from the football academy structure, all it needs is publicity and sponsorship. This would boost football’s creativity and increase the value of local African stars in the global football market because it is a unique brand in many African communities.